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Opening Bell: 04.07.09

Ford Pays Down Debt (WSJ)
This has to be humiliating for GM, who's still facing bankruptcy on the heels of having Wagoner pushed into the ever-loving land of canasta.
"Ford Motor Co. said Monday its investors agreed to exchange $9.9 billion in debt for cash and stock, ratcheting up the pressure on its struggling U.S. competitors that also are trying to cut debt.
Ford's 28% reduction in its overall debt comes as General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC have failed to make significant progress in their discussions with bondholders and lenders."
Ireland To Raise Taxes, Cut Spending (Bloomberg)
The Irish have been pretty well hammered by the S&P reduction to their credit rating, leading the government to take appropriate measures. I'm of the opinion that we should do our part to support their economy: if you haven't been to Temple Bar, you should (it's a massive area of Dublin comprised mostly of drinking establishments). While the Irish women aren't always the best in show, there's generally a fair amount of traffic from across the channel, and the Irish have a glorified/liberal view on alcoholism: I once saw a man get in a fight with a streetlight, and then get carted away to the hospital (he lost).
Bidders Emerging For AIG Asset Management Business (WSJ)
"Several buyers have submitted offers between $400 million and $800 million, said the people familiar with the matter. That would register below the typical price for asset-management businesses, which historically have been valued at 1% to 2% of assets, which would value AIG's unit at between $1 billion and $2 billion.
Private-equity firms Ashmore Investment Management Ltd., Hellman & Friedman LLC, Rhône Group LLC and TA Associates Inc. are among groups that have shown interest, these people said. So have mutual-fund manager Franklin Templeton Investments and asset manager Southgate Alternative Investments. The list of suitors is expected to be pared this week. The potential buyers declined to comment."
Poll Says Optimism Up (Reuters)
It's worth noting that the sample size was 998 people, error +/- 3pts.

"The number of respondents who said the country was headed in the wrong direction dropped to 53 percent from 79 percent.
Thirty-four percent said the economy, already contracting, was getting worse, down from 54 percent just before Obama took office.
According to the poll, 20 percent of Americans now think the economy is getting better, compared with 7 percent in mid-January."
Short Sellers Squeezed All Around (WSJ)
"Critics say short sellers, with the aid of brokerage firms, cause these delivery failures by shorting stocks without first borrowing shares, as required by securities law. Such activity drives down stocks by adding to the selling pressure.
The moves come as the SEC meets Wednesday to discuss further potential restrictions on short sellers. These include reinstating the "uptick rule," which until 2007 had required short sellers to wait for a rise, or uptick, in a stock's price before placing their bet that it would go down."
Arrests At Satyam (WSJ)
Our favorite little Indian firm has seen some more assets come down the pipeline, all in the finance department.
Signs Of A Credit Thaw (NYT)
"The market for loans and corporate bonds went into lockdown mode last autumn after the collapse of Lehman Brothers. Lending dried up, bond values plunged and skittish banks started charging hefty premiums to part with their money for even a short while.
But huge rescue measures and guarantees by the Treasury and Federal Reserve have helped to shore up the credit markets, and some tentative signs of life in the wider economy are now encouraging lenders and borrowers to rethink their apocalyptic outlooks."