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Opening Bell/Closing/President's Day Bell: 02.16.09

Chavez Wins Vote To Scrap Term Limits (FT)

Venezuelans have given Hugo Chavez's "Bolivarian revolution" fresh impetus after voting in favour of a referendum that will allow the socialist leader to continue running for president indefinitely.
"The gates to the future have been opened wide," said an emotional Mr Chavez from the balcony of the presidential palace, as a throng of ecstatic followers chanted in unison, "Hey, ho, Chavez won't go."

G7 Tries To Light A Flame Under Geithner's Ass (Bloomberg)
It's pretty much the world consensus at this point that the US is responsible for the economic downturn; the German Finance Minister called us the "departure and focal point". They're (not the emphatic "they're", but rather something approaching the entire world) calling for speed, clarity, and magic:
"A concrete U.S. plan would have positive spillover effects on markets and economies elsewhere," said Marco Annunziata, chief economist at UniCredit MIB in London. "They are also probably hoping Geithner unveils the magic formula, which they could then also adopt."
In related news (Reuters), President Obama's administration warns not to expect magic (miracles), though "there will be signs very quickly, but it's going to take time for that to show up in the statistics" says David Axelrod.
Car Czar Replaced By Panel (NYT)
The idea of the car czar didn't last long; what we're seeing instead is a panel of three people: Geithner of Treasury fame, Summers, Chairman of the Economic Council, and Ron Bloom.
"Mr. Bloom is known for bringing his Wall Street experience as an investment banker to an advisory role as the "in-house" banker for the steel workers' union. With the auto union locking horns with bondholders in the G.M. revamping deliberations, Mr. Bloom appears to bring credibility with both the union and the debtors. Mr. Bloom could not be reached for comment Sunday night.
Another senior administration official said that Mr. Obama had considered appointing a car czar, and among those considered for the job was the private equity executive Steven Rattner. It was not clear why the administration changed course or whether Mr. Rattner would have a role on the task force."
From Prisoners To Chief Executives (BBC)
"Four years ago Catherine Rohr was a venture capitalist on Wall Street. Then she left her job with its six-figure salary and decided to create the Prison Entrepreneurship Program, or PEP.
"They don't all understand risk management as well as they should because they all got busted when they came to prison, but when it comes to execution and marketing - they get it.""
BofA workers can keep Flight 1549 refunds (Charlotte Observer)
It turns out Bank of America really did ask its employees on the flight that landed in the Hudson to turn the money the airline refunded them over to the bank. But, according to BAC, it was an accident.

An Intelligent Argument For Bonuses (Breakingviews)
Rob Cox has put together a cogent argument for the outlandish bonus structure on the street.