Discount flyer ATA Airlines filed for bankruptcy, and the WSJ puts it on B1.

ATA Airlines Inc. grounded its planes, the latest sign of pain for the discount carriers that helped push the U.S. airline industry toward lower fares but now are being squeezed by soaring fuel prices and a slowing economy.

Their troubles could lead to big cutbacks in cheap seats and limit consumers’ ability to fly for the low prices they have come to expect. But fewer seats could also help the rest of the industry, including bigger rivals, raise fares to cover swelling fuel bills.

CD dinosaur

Apple became the biggest music seller in the world, overtaking Wal-Mart, the Los Angeles Times reports. It’s a landmark in the shift from hard copies to digital downloads.

“It’s a major milestone,” said Tom Adams, president of consulting firm Adams Media Research. “It is the first instance of an electronic venue surpassing a [bricks-and-mortar] retail venue for any kind of media delivery.”

Larry Ellison, upstanding citizen

Bloomberg has a great report on Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, No. 14 on Forbes list of the richest people in the world, screwing over the kids to save a few bucks.

Seems Ellison paid $200 million to build a house south of Frisco in the manner of a “16th-century Japanese emperor’s country house” and screamed because the county assessed its value at $166 million. Get this: he argues that it shouldn’t be assessed that high because “the property was so elaborate that no one else would pay that much for it.”

Two years later, Ellison wins his appeal, lowers his future tax bills, and gets $3 million in taxes back. That will shave 3 percent off the Portola Valley School District’s annual $10 million budget, which will have to cut six jobs. The Bloomberg report doesn’t quite spell it out, but it appears that the ruling dropped the value of the $200 million house to $66 million.

Ellison has a net worth of $25 billion. Dude has a 450-foot yacht.

It’s alive!

The Journal writes on C2 that the $2.5 trillion asset-backed securities markets are showing “tentative signs of life.”

There is investor demand for new deals and supply has picked up. Last week alone, $4.6 billion in new offerings were sold, mainly offerings backed by credit cards and auto loans.

But the market still has a long way to go before a full recovery can be declared. Issuance has plummeted in the latest quarter and prices remain soft, as investors have turned selective, even on deals with top-notch credit rankings amid worries about the state of the consumer…

Asset-backed securities bundle consumer debt—such as car, home and student loans—into new securities with different risks and returns and then sell them to investors. In the first quarter of this year, securitization of such loans totaled $43 billion, a 75% drop from the year-earlier quarter, according to J.P. Morgan research.

If it’s not a false dawn, this would be big news— a sign that the financial crisis is finally easing somewhat.

John Reed’s regret

Contrition on Wall Street? John Reed, who along with Sandy Weill created the behemoth “financial services supermarket” Citigroup in 1998, now tells the Financial Times that deal was a mistake.

In a rare interview, Mr Reed said it was unclear whether the company’s model or its management deserved the greater share of blame for its problems. But he said Citigroup turned out to be a “sad story”.

“The specific merger transaction clearly has to be seen to have been a mistake,” Mr Reed said.

“The stockholders have not benefited, the employees certainly have not benefited and I don’t think the customers have benefited because our franchises are weaker than they have been.”

Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu.