5. Das NYSE is Kaput

Wall Street on Tuesday went apoplectic over the announcement that Germany's Deutsche Boerse would buy a controlling stake in NYSE Euronext (NYX).

Shorty after the announcement the media was filled with an interesting mix of whining, xenophobia and self loathing from all sides of the political spectrum.

Donald Trump was quoted as saying "I think it's ridiculous that this country would allow Germany to buy our New York Stock Exchange. It's another black eye for the United States -- victory for Germany, not the United States."

Of course, he may have a grudge against Germany ever since Deutsche Bank ( DB) sued him for defaulting on a construction loan in 2008.

You know those Germans, expecting to be paid back. Jerks.

And then there was New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer who implied the deal could be held up by Congress unless the NYSE came first in any combined name.

You can buy our money-losing exchange, but Germany will not mess with our letterhead and signage.

While we all like to chant "USA, USA" during these troubled times and fight off Germany and all their dirty, filthy money, it is time that the investing public faced the facts.

OK, you ready? Sitting? We hate to break this to you, but ... the NYSE stopped being relevant, like, 30 years ago.

I know this is hard for your to hear, especially since it's been great run. Listen, the NYSE was dominant for over 50 years. It had its day and continues to remain one of the icons of the American capitalist system.

Plus, have you ever eaten in the NYSE dining room? It is awesome. We can vouch.

But the NYSE, like all public equity exchanges, has become a dinosaur of the past. The largest investors, including banks and hedge funds, predominantly trade equity shares off the NYSE and other public exchanges in private computer systems called electronic communications networks, or ECNs.

Also, the rise of private equity, hedge funds and other alternative investments means that money that used to be pushed into equity trades is now being pushed back and forth between large institutional investors only using lawyers in the middle.

And believe us, being in the middle is exactly where the lawyers like to be.

We like the NYSE. The traders are usually great people and the building is a landmark. Plus, they sit directly across from TheStreet's offices. We see these people every day, albeit usually for smoke breaks behind law enforcement holding automatic weapons.

Did I mention security is tight at the NYSE?

Look at the bright side. Right down the block from the NYSE is the Museum of American Finance. Which judging from this deal, just opened a branch one block away.

4. Pepsi Celebrates Skinny

http://www.thestreet.com/story/10996278/4/the-5-dumbest-things-on-wall-street-feb-4.html

Pepsi ( PEP) is getting into the habit of plunging headlong into all aspects of the food wars. At least, it seems perfectly willing to taunt anti-obesity and health advocates.

A couple weeks ago, it was CEO Indra Nooyi telling Fox Business News that "Doritos are not bad for you." Nope, they are "nothing more than corn mashed up, fried up in oil, and flavored in the most delectable way." Eat up.

This week, the company washed that grease-coated gem of healthy eating advice down by unveiling its new Diet Pepsi "skinny can" at New York Fashion Week. The can itself, we'll concede, is a good idea that's probably long overdue. The marketing of this new can, however, is flat.

"Diet Pepsi has a long history of celebrating women through iconic fashion imagery seen in our infamous and historical campaigns, and we're proud to continue that tradition as an official sponsor of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week," said Jill Beraud, Pepsi's chief marketing officer. Pepsi's marketing team clearly needs to look up the meaning of the word infamous. "Our slim, attractive new can is the perfect complement to today's most stylish looks, and we're excited to throw its coming-out party during the biggest celebration of innovative design in the world."

Pepsi's idea of celebrating women, in this case, boils down to the tried and true formula of slim = attractive. By that logic, Pepsi can count itself among such other celebrators of women as Playboy, Victoria's Secret and beauty pageants. And if Pepsi is arguing that Fashion Week represents a celebration of women, good luck winning that argument with anyone outside the fashion industry.

There were also tons of people thrilled to have the skinny = attractive concept reinforced at fashion shows, which celebrate women with parades of models who surely eat their Doritos in moderation, as Nooyi advised.

"It is painful that a major fortune 500 company needs to denigrate the majority of women in this country to sell their products," said Lynn Grefe, president and CEO of the National Eating Disorder Association. "Most women are not skinny, nor should we encourage them to be anything but their own personal healthy size. The focus should be on health."

Sadly, Pepsi actually is putting the focus on health, just not in the best way.

3. J.C. Penney Caught Gaming Google

Could J.C. Penney's ( JCP) Google ( GOOG) whoring have inflated holiday sales?

The New York Times revealed this week that for several months around the key holiday season, the department store bested millions of Web sites to land the No. 1 spot for generic search terms like "bedding," "area rug" and "dresses." It even appeared on the top of Google's search ahead of larger (and sometimes more relevant) rivals like Wal-Mart ( WMT), Target ( TGT) and Amazon ( AMZN).

While one can argue that the company, with 1,100 stores and $17.8 billion in sales in 2010, holds the same influence as these other bigwigs, could Google really have believed it was the most relevant site for these searches? Either Google's much-touted algorithm was flawed or something fishy was going on. The Times also notes that the retailer was first on the list for months for more specific keywords like "Samsonite carry on luggage," even ahead of Samsonite.com, the actual maker of the luggage.

While J.C. Penney denied any participation in search engine manipulation (and subsequently worked on removing the links), the Times found numerous sites (many of which were all but abandoned) unrelated to J.C. Penney or its merchandise, linking back to the department store. These links could be powerful enough to boost its e-commerce site to the head of Google search.

So what exactly did J.C. Penney get out of this? The Times estimates that landing the No. 1 search term spot could attract up to 4 million visitors per month. Of course, not all of these visits necessary translated into sales, but the company did note in its December same-store sales release that its e-commerce site reported strong growth, with significant increases in traffic and orders.

The situation begs the question: If J.C. Penney did know about this optimization, was it artificially boosting its search ranking because it didn't believe its merchandise was strong enough, on its own, to organically succeed?

Let's just say it will be interesting to see how J.C. Penney's online business will fare without the added, illicit, traffic boost.

2. Apple Leaks the Attention

Apple ( AAPL) blinked this week and floated the iPhone Nano balloon.

Apple was unable to sit still while Nokia ( NOK) and Microsoft ( MSFT) grabbing headlines in London last week with the fateful strategic leap from a burning platform.

Then Apple was forced to hear the jazz about HTC Cha Cha and Salsa Facebook phones coming out of the big Mobile World Congress show in Barcelona this week. It had to be nauseating for Apple to watch that predictably gushing Google ( GOOG) Android lovefest.

Making it all harder to stomach, Apple wasn't selling many Verizon iPhones.

Now if you were Apple you'd probably try to play it cool, take it all in stride. Feel some of the confidence from the record iPhone and iPad sales you just posted last quarter. Basically you'd want to turn up your own music until all that mobile industry noise fade down.

But Apple's not like that at all.

The guard never comes down in Cupertino. Behind the sleek façade burns the competitive fire. Even store clerks think to themselves "sell, sell, sell" to gain a promotion to the Genius Bar.

So maybe it's no surprise that Apple stooped to the "me too" move Monday. The company or select insiders leaked to the media a little peek ahead at what might be in store later this year.

"What do you think of mini iPhones, ladies and gentlemen," Apple no doubt offered. "You'll stop thinking about Android when we unleash millions iPhone nanos on the market," Apple might say, if Apple really said stuff. Those low-priced iPhone nuggets could trip the mightiest of Android 4G phones.

Rumors of iPhone nanos have been around for three years or more, but kudos Apple for keeping the flame burning.

1. Allstate Ices Charity

You're in good hands with Allstate ( ALL). That is, unless you're a charity.

Last weekend, between periods of the U.S. Hockey League's Indiana Ice game, Richard Marsh had an opportunity to win $50,000 by shooting a puck the length of the ice into a small cutout hole in the goal. The Allstate Good Hands Shootout, as it was called, happened to be taking place on Hockey for Heart night.

Marsh had the option of keeping the money or donating it. Prior to taking his shot he committed to donating the money IF he made it.

And he did.

Except, a review found that Marsh was ahead of the shooting line when he released his shot, giving him the extra couple inches of advantage that can't be tolerated when attempting to raise money for charity.

According to Yahoo!, Allstate was somewhat off the hook when it was discovered that a third-party insurance agency responsible for covering the event decided to wave off the goal. The owners of the Indiana Ice, Paul and Cindy Skjodt, decided to do the right thing and made a donation themselves. The amount was not disclosed, however.

So Allstate wasn't to blame. Even though they sponsored the contest, put their name on it and have built their entire brand image on being the company that cares for you when times are tough. Allstate stayed mum, and in so doing, gave perhaps the best example of how, regardless of their marketing message, insurance companies let people down.

And why would Allstate want to show themselves to be somewhat human and acknowledge that Marsh made a one-in-a-million shot? Better to keep that $50,000 and have yourself portrayed as the villain in the press and the community. Who needs goodwill? You can't buy it, but in this case, Allstate easily could have.

Allstate, if there was ever a time for "puttin' on the foil," this was it and you missed it.

In light of all this dumbness, we now ask you: Which is this week's dumbestof the dumb stories? Take the poll below to see what TheStreet has tosay.

Which is this week's dumbest of the dumb stories?

Das NYSE is Kaput
Pepsi Celebrates Skinny
J.C. Penney Caught Gaming Google
Apple Leaks the Attention
Allstate Ices Charity

This article was written by a staff member of TheStreet.

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