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  Friday, 26 Nov 2010 | 10:09 AM ET

Sony's Tretton on Smart Phones and the Future of Gaming

Posted By: Lori Ann LaRocco

Black Friday marks the official kick off to the holiday shopping season and the battle over the gaming space is no child's play. This is serious business and it has come a long way from its meager beginnings in 2000 when total video game sales including PC games totaled $7.98 billion. According to researchers at NPD, game sales at brick-and-mortar retail alone has since grown more than 250 percent in recent years.

One of the companies in this tech gauntlet is Sony's PlayStation. The company has also been in the news as of late with the rumors surrounding a smart phone which, if the rumors are true, the may come to be considered the ultimate gamer "must have."

I sat down with Jack Tretton, President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America , to talk about his expectations this holiday season and to dig into the rumors on a phone launch.

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  Friday, 26 Nov 2010 | 9:28 AM ET

Portugal Claims no Bailout Imminent; Approves 'Austere' 2011 Budget

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Black Friday Underway (Wall Street Journal) "Lines wrapped around stores and parking lots across the nation as shoppers sought early morning deals, especially on consumer electronics and toys. About 138 million Americans are expected to go shopping this weekend, and the Friday after Thanksgiving—frequently referred to as "Black Friday"—is expected to be the busiest shopping day of the year. 'We do it for the fun of it,' said Gail Giordano, who was in line preparing to enter a Target Corp. store in Hackensack, N.J., opening at 4 a.m." (I'm pleased Gail is having fun—but I'd rather have root canal without anesthesia.)

Portugal Claims no Bailout Immanent; Approves 'Austere' 2011 Budget (CNBC via Reuters) "Portugal denied on Friday a news report that it is under pressure from most euro zone countries and the European Central Bank to seek a bailout." In reference to reports about a push on the country to seek an aid package, a Portuguese government spokesperson said: "This news article is completely false, it has no foundation." Optimism in Lisbon notwithstanding, does anyone else recall this nearly identical BBC news headline – from just nine days ago? "Ireland denies bailout rumours after record budget cuts ."

Spain: We're not Next (Financial Times) "Spain has warned financial traders betting against its debt that they will lose money, in a defiant challenge to the markets which are driving Madrid’s cost of borrowing sharply higher." Let's hope not: Spain's economy may simply be too big for an effective bailout. Spain also has enormous private liabilities to foreign investors.

More on the 'warning': "José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spanish prime minister, on Friday ruled out any rescue package for the country even as the premiums demanded by investors to hold Spanish sovereign debt over that of Germany’s rose to euro-era highs. This week’s sharp rise in Spanish 10-year bond yields to 5.2 per cent is an indication of growing concern in eurozone bond markets that the fiscal crisis in Ireland could spread to other debt-laden countries including Portugal and Spain. 'I should warn those investors who are short selling Spain that they are going to be wrong and will go against their own interests,' Mr Zapatero said in an interview with Barcelona-based broadcaster RAC1, according to Bloomberg. He 'absolutely' ruled out any need for a rescue." You have to wonder: Is threatening investors an effective national economic strategy?

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  Friday, 26 Nov 2010 | 8:28 AM ET

Starbucks, China, and Overdevelopment

Posted By: Ash Bennington

As you may have read recently in The Wall Street Journal, Starbucks is planning to open 1,000 new stores in China .

Starbucks
AP
Starbucks

In many ways, it's a heartwarming tale: Starbucks is a true American—and now international— business success story. After going public a little less than two decades ago, Starbucks now has a market capitalization of over $20 billion . And the success of Starbucks has been more than merely financial: Not only have they managed to reinvent coffeehouse culture, but they've maintained many of the core progressive values the company grew up around. (The best-known example of this is probably Starbucks commitment to providing health insurance to its employees—even those who work only part-time—a topic Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz recently spoke of with justifiable pride in an interview with the New York Times.)

Superimpose this inspiring narrative of financial and cultural success onto the hot Chinese emerging markets growth storyline and the results are sure to be something to anticipate with great expectations. Well, perhaps not.

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  Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 | 7:52 PM ET

Tarp Worked: What Are the Political Ramification for the GOP?

Posted By: Ash Bennington

Markets Up—Significantly—Ahead of Holiday Weekend (Marketwatch) "Down 167 points after the past two days of trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wednesday climbed 144.14 points, or 1.3 percent, to 11,180.51, with all but two of its 30 components trading higher. The S&P 500 Index rose 16.04 points, or 1.4 percent, to 1,196.77, with the consumer-discretionary sector leading gains among its 10 industry groups and Tiffany & Co. among its notable advancers. "

»Read more
  Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 | 4:13 PM ET

Thanksgiving: A Time to Celebrate the Free Market

Posted By: John Carney

When the pilgrims who came to Plymouth, they initially established a system of holding all property in common, pooling the proceeds from their hunting and farming. The predictable results of this small-scale socialism ensued, producing corruption, famine and death, because the colonists lacked incentives to work.

Image Source|Getty Images

It's a well-known story that has been told for over fifty years. The most widely circulated version of the capitalist morality tale of Thanksgiving probably comes from Richard Maybury, who wrote "The Great Thanksgiving Hoax" in 1985 for a newsletter published by the Ludwig von Mises Institute.

Recently, however, this version of events has come under a bizarre attack from the left. Kate Zernike, who covers politics for The New York Times, penned an essay in the "Week in Review" section that attempts to set the record straight. Unfortunately, her understanding of free markets is so garbled that she only winds up creating confusion.

First, let's quote Maybury's story:

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  Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 | 3:45 PM ET

Insider Trading Improves Investor Confidence

Posted By: John Carney

Holman Jenkins today joins the chorus calling the latest insider trading dragnet "insane."

Sandra Baker | Photographer's Choice | Getty Images

His original contribution to the debate comes in the form of a refutation of the traditional argument that insider trading hurts investor confidence. To the contrary, Jenkins argues, it should make investors more confident that they are buying at a fair price .

"What really improves the small investor's confidence in the market's fairness is when he buys a stock, is blindsided by some corporate announcement, and yet notices the stock barely moves anyway thanks to the sharpies who made sure the information was already in the price," Jenkins writes.

Let's say, for instance, you are considering buying shares of a computer manufacturer. Little do you know, the company has been having trouble selling its computers lately. Wall Street analysts have missed this trouble and are expecting a great quarter. You trust the analysts and buy a bunch of shares. When the news comes out about disappointing earnings, you get hit hard as the stock dives.

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  Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 | 3:17 PM ET

Insider Trading Victims Are Still Snuffleuphaguses

Posted By: John Carney

James Altucher, managing director of Formula Capital, describes one of the alleged insider trades made by Galleon :

Lets look back at an ancient case: the Galleon insider buying of Hilton the day before it was acquired by Blackstone. Galleon supposedly paid an analyst $10,000 to give up the information on this merger. Galleon made $4,000,000 on the trade.

On July 3, 2007, after the market closed, Blackstone announced they were buying Hilton. Raj had known and made a ton of money. Everyone knew at the time there was insider trading involved. I even went on CNBC that very weekend to discuss what had happened.

On July 2, the day before the deal was announced, Hilton shares were at $33.87. On July 3, Hilton shares made one of their biggest moves ever, closing almost 7% higher at $36.05 on double the normal volume before the deal was announced. And, by the way, it was a half day in the markets that day. Then Blackstone offered $47.50 a share for Hilton. It was clear even then that someone big had known something and had acted illegally on that information. In a column for the Financial Times I wrote “Certainly they’ll catch one or two criminals here” and they did. Its very hard to track down insider trading and I give the SEC kudos for doing a great job here. Did they catch all the culprits? Probably not, but they certainly made anyone thinking of doing this crime very very scared.

So my question is: who was harmed by the insider trading?

Certainly, it wasn't the people who sold shares on July 3. They got a better price than they would have if not for the insider trading.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 | 2:32 PM ET

"The Daily"—Where the Apps Have No Name

Posted By: Julia La Roche

“The Daily”—the tablet-only news outlet created by Apple CEO Steve Jobs and American media mogul and CEO of News Corp Rupert Murdoch—is actually much bigger than outsiders suspect.

Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation
Don Emmert | AFP | Getty Images
Rupert Murdoch, Chairman and CEO of News Corporation

Some reports are blowing off The Daily, citing its exclusivity to the iPad as a key reason for why it won’t succeed.

But inside of the upper echelons of News Corp , there is a lot of confidence.

And with confidence, comes funding. Information obtained by NetNet reveals that the project has significantly more money than the $40 million that has been reported. The real level of funding is "not even in the same stratosphere” as $40 million.

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  Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 | 1:56 PM ET

Why the FBI and SEC Insider Trading Investigation is so Theatrical

Posted By: John Carney

“They could have just as easily come in before hours and gotten what they wanted,” said an employee at Diamondback Capital Management . “Why did this have to be in a dramatic, Hollywood manner?”

Wall Street sign
Paul Giamou | Aurora | Getty Images
Wall Street sign

Criminal defense attorney Gerald Lefcourt said that while the raids on the offices of hedge funds earlier this week might have been prompted by a fear that evidence would be destroyed, he wasn't convinced the motives were legitimate. "There may be another motive, but I view this as an improper motive—and that is to simply scare people," Lefcourt said. "And it certainly does have that effect."

What's going on here? Felix Salmon thinks the raids might have been staged in part to send a message to employees at firms possibly under investigation.

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  Wednesday, 24 Nov 2010 | 1:06 PM ET

Thankful for Options

Posted By: Lori Spechler

What are you giving thanks for this year?

Image Source|Getty Images

Bill Lefkowitz, vFinance Investments wants to give thanks for weekly options . That’s right—weekly options. Activity ramped up this year since the industry standardized options symbology — making it easier to trade and list options and apparently, to make money.

Bill is also grateful that the CBOE listed the “weeklys” today instead of the normal Thursday listing for expiration the following Friday. If you believe the record high on Amazon.com, most people “working” around the Thanksgiving holiday are shopping online. But Bill is more interested in shopping Amazon puts and calls. Listed today are $165 puts and $185 calls — both worth about a buck, both expiring Friday, December 3rd.

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About NetNet

  • NetNet is where you'll find the low-down and the high jinks of Wall Street. It's the place for insider stories, trader gossip, and tales of the foibles of the moneyed crowd and the culture of finance.Wall Street news and commentary served fresh all day long.

 

  • Jeff Cox is finance editor for CNBC.com.

  • Lawrence Develingne

    Lawrence Delevingne is the ‘Big Money’ enterprise reporter for CNBC.com and NetNet.

  • Stephanie Landsman is one of the producers of "Fast Money."

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