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Banks Cooperating, Hearts Endangered
Three U.S. banking giants are pooling resources to avert more credit pain. Medtronic is recalling potentially faulty defibrillator wires. And has Coke embraced the lure of holistic healing?
N
EWS AT A GLANCE

Banks prepare credit rescue fund

Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, and Bank of America have agreed to set up a roughly $80 billion fund to shore up the market for asset-backed commercial paper. (Reuters) The move, prompted by the Treasury Department, is designed to stabilize credit markets by helping bank-affiliated “structured investment vehicles” avoid selling their $320 billion in holdings at fire-sale prices. The banks already had to inject more liquidity, said CitiSights strategist Christian Stracke. “The public cooperation just makes the bail-outs of SIVs seem more orderly.” (Bloomberg in Los Angeles Times) Citigroup, which has $100 billion in SIV exposure, also reported that third-quarter earnings fell 57 percent. (MarketWatch)

Medtronic pulls defibrillator parts

Medical-device firm Medtronic warned that the wires leading from implanted defibrillators to the hearts of 235,000 patients have a potential defect that might have contributed to five deaths. Medtronic is pulling the Sprint Fidelis wires, or leads, from the market, but not recommending that patients have them removed. Medtronic has more than half of the $6 billion defibrillator market. About 2.3 percent of the Fidelis leads will fracture, affecting 4,000 to 5,000 people. (The New York Times, free registration required) A fractured lead “can cause the defibrillator to deliver unnecessary shocks or not operate at all,” explained Daniel Schultz of the Food and Drug Administration. (AP in Yahoo! Finance)

Airbus delivers first superjumbo A380

European aerospace giant Airbus delivered its first superjumbo A380 jet today, to Singapore Airlines, 18 months behind schedule. Even as they celebrated the landmark occasion, however, Airbus executives denied newspaper reports that further delays could thwart the scheduled delivery of 13 more A380s in 2008. (Reuters) Airbus has 181 orders for the A380, and said last year that it will break even on the project after the 420th plane. The first delivery is “an important step in marketing the plane, but I wouldn’t say it takes them out of the woods,” said Morgan Stanley analyst Scott Babka. (Bloomberg)

Clicking for lawyers

Google makes much of its money by auctioning off “sponsored links” next to Internet searches, and a Web site called CyberWyre tells you the going rate for those ads. “Christmas cookies” cost 54 cents per click recently, while “Britney Spears” cost 36 cents. But when you get to personal injury lawyers, the prices go up to $50 or $60 a click. Such lawyers make money by settling cases in bulk, and they need clients. But the high prices are also due to a baffling quirk -- personal injury lawyers all charge about the same rate. “Instead of competing on price,” said Ted Frank at the American Enterprise Institute, “they compete on Google.” (The New York Times, free registration required)

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