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Opening Bell: 01.05.09

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SEC Posts Eight And Zero Record (Reuters)
It's hard to explain how regulators could possibly miss the largest Ponzi scheme in history on eight separate occasions over 16 years, short of BM packing the room with hookers, coke, and a disco ball. Even then there might at some point be some synaptic spark that says "something doesn't seem right here" (and that explanation would go a long way towards the syphilis defense.)
The Cox and Crew beating on the Hill will be glorious.
Renaissance Futures Fund Waves Management Fee (WSJ)
The fund is waiving its 1% management fee after a 12 percent loss in 2008 on $3B. The sad part is that when you consider all the factors, 12 percent is the new "killing it" - and 1% isn't much to bark at in the first place. If Renaissance cuts staff on the heels this it's downright irresponsible - and if the argument turns to client retention: any sales staff that can't keep clients in the door on 12% down in this environment isn't doing its job.
Obama Puts Together Economic Package (NYT)
$500 credit for individuals, $1000 married (200k salary cap), and tax incentives to invest in factories/equipment/job retention. Other unnamed "tax breaks" to "stir capital investment."
Paulson Closes 2008 With A Loss (Reuters)
"Paolo Pellegrini, who played a crucial role in helping to implement bets against subprime mortgages that netted Paulson & Co about $15 billion in 2007, resigned from the hedge-fund firm on December 31, the Wall Street Journal said."
The article says the separation was amicable, but I could hardly see it saying otherwise; wouldn't it be phenomenal if some absolutely insane story came out of this just after JP rails against his colleagues for preserving what's left of the stability of the market? I'm going to sit patiently and wait for a story that reads "Pellegrini now admits J. Paulson became increasingly erratic, at one point hiring a six foot three man in a chicken suite wearing a Viking helmet to handle in coming faxes."
Futures Down On Autos (MarketWatch)
According to the article US December numbers are expected to be down ~40%.
GM has about as much chance of making it out of this without a Government Elephant Walk as a bowl of Chunky Monkey® does making it out of a Weight Watchers convention.

Russia Plays Gas Czar (Reuters)
"Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine on January 1 in a dispute over debts and pricing that has again placed Russia's reputation as a reliable gas supplier under scrutiny. Supplies to several European countries have already fallen as a result."
Every time I read something about Russia now all I can think about is that movie with Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd "Spies Like Us."
--William Richards