Weekend Report: Washington Dominates the News

If you haven't heard the news from the U.S. capital, you'd better sit down before you read this.
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If, for some reason, you haven't read or heard the news since Friday and if, for some reason, you're standing up at your computer, you'd better sit down.

On Saturday, the

House of Representatives

impeached the president for the first time in 130 years, but not before speaker-designate

Bob Livingston

announced that he would not stand for the post next month, and will leave Congress by mid-year. Dennis Hastert, an Illinois moderate and the chief deputy majority whip, has emerged as the front-runner to succeed Newt Gingrich -- who resigned this fall.

The House impeached

Bill Clinton

on two of the four articles of impeachment drawn up by the Judiciary Committee last week. It passed articles asserting that Clinton committed perjury when testifying about his relationship with White House intern

Monica Lewinsky

before

Ken Starr's

grand jury on Aug. 17, and that he obstructed justice in covering up the affair. Two other articles were defeated.

The good news, from a financial-markets perspective, is that in the Senate, which must now try Clinton on the impeachment charges, cooler heads were prevailing this morning. If the markets want a speedy resolution to this crisis, Republican leaders on the political talk shows held out hope for one. On

Meet the Press

, Judiciary Committee Chairman

Orrin Hatch

of Utah conceded there aren't enough votes in the Senate to convict Clinton. And on

Fox News Sunday

, Assistant Majority Leader Don Nickles of Oklahoma said he thought the trial could be over quickly. "I think it could be done in three weeks if the White House wants," he said.

Even so, the dollar was under pressure against the yen tonight, lately trading at about 115.40, down from 116.05 on Friday. In Tokyo, where trading was expected to be light ahead of the holiday, stocks opened lower. The Nikkei 225 average lately was down 72.72, to 14,121.57, on fears that Clinton's impeachment may hurt Wall Street stocks.

In other news, the four-day U.S.-U.K. bombing campaign against

Iraq

ended Saturday, with officials saying it succeeded in destroying Saddam Hussein's ability to produce weapons of mass destruction. (Also, Clinton and Starr, beat out

Fed

Chairman

Alan Greenspan

, among others, for

Time

magazine's Man of the Year designation.)

Not much in the way of business developments on this weekend before Christmas. London's

Sunday Times

reported that

British Aerospace

, Europe's largest defense company, is in merger talks with Britain's

General Electric

. A GEC spokesman confirmed the talks to

Bloomberg

, but said BAe is one of a number of possible merger partners. A GEC-BAe merger would create a $39 billion defense and electronics entity.

Also,

Ambassadors International

(AMIE)

authorized a stock buyback plan for up to $20 million.

In the Papers

The weekend financial press is similarly subdued.

Barron's

cover story is a glowing profile of

Morgan Stanley Dean Witter

Internet analyst Mary Meeker, but if anything in the weekly moves stocks on Monday it'll probably be a very bullish piece on the paper industry, which predicts an M\&A wave.

Meeker tells

Barron's

she thinks the browser wars are over and

Yahoo!

(YHOO)

has won, and that

Barnes \& Noble

(BKS) - Get Report

is going to have a hard time catching up with

Amazon.com

(AMZN) - Get Report

.

The weekly also has a bullish piece on oil (a couple of industry gurus think it's going to rise to about $18 a barrel in the new year), and a Q\&A with Paul Matthews and Mark Headley, managers of

(MAPTX) - Get Report

MATTHEWS PACIFIC TIGER,

(MAKOX) - Get Report

MATTHEWS KOREA,

Matthews Asian Growth \& Income

and

Matthews Dragon Century China

.

The

New York Times

Money \& Business

section, for its part, has a feature on the growing presence of the over-50 set in online investing.