Stir that succotash, will ya, Newt?


Excuse me, I hate to complain and everything, but… Yes, what is it, Governor Gingrich? Well, I’m not a governor. I used to be the Speaker of the House of Representatives. I’m running for the Republican nomination, and I was wondering, how come I have to eat in the kitchen, standing up? Oh, this is Iowa, Governor. Everybody eats in the kitchen. Hang on just a minute, I can see that Rick Perry guy getting his picture taken with folks, and there’s Michele Bachmann signing autographs and what-not, and here I am standing next to some lady in an apron… Right, Governor, I need you to reach over and stir that big vat of succotash on the stove for a minute. Mix ‘er up real good, will you? Um, okay, sure, but you see… Was there some other thing you’re not happy with, Governor Gingrich? Yes, it’s this name tag. My name isn’t actually spelled KNUTE… Join the Oddly Enough blog network Follow this blog on Twitter at rbasler Top: Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, eats before speaking at the Iowa Faith & Freedom Coalition’s Presidential Forum at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines, Iowa October 22, 2011. Right: Texas Governor Rick Perry poses for a photo with a supporter before speaking at the Forum. Bottom right: Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann signs autographs after her speech at the Forum REUTERS photos by Brian C. Frank More stuff from Oddly Enough  

Bank of America selling NYC building stake- report


Spokespersons for Bank of America and Brookfield declined to comment.Bank of America, which agreed to to buy Merrill at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, has been reducing its space in the building. The Charlotte, North Carolina, bank has a tower in Midtown Manhattan that officially opened last year.The sale is the latest move by Bank of America to shed assets as it looks to build capital to meet new international standards and to cover mortgage losses.

UPDATE 1-Sprint says iPhone sales beat expectations


* Shares rise 1 cent to $2.80 in late tradeOct 14 (Reuters) - Sprint Nextel said on Friday that sales of Apple Inc iPhones surpassed its expectations and that iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S broke the “device family” one-day sales record for the No. 3 U.S. mobile service.Sprint, the third U.S. operator to carry iPhone, is under pressure to sell a lot of iPhones as investors have been fretting over how it will pay for the higher subsidies that carriers pay for Apple products. Sprint was heavily criticized for failing to comment on its iPhone costs at an analyst day last week.”Sprint today reported its best ever day of sales in retail, web and telesales for a device family in Sprint history with the launch of iPhone 4S and iPhone 4,” Fared Adib, Sprint product chief, said in a statement.Without giving specific numbers, Adib said Sprint reached the milestone at about 1 p.m. EDT on the day of the iPhone 4S store launch. It started taking preorders on Oct. 7.”The response to this device by current and new customers has surpassed our expectations and validates our customers’ desire for a truly unlimited data pricing plan,” he said.Apple’s new iPhone went on sale in seven countries around the globe on Friday, prompting long queues at many stores from Sydney to Tokyo to New York.Sprint shares closed up 1 cent at $2.79 on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares edged up to $2.80 in after-hours trade.

Alcatel agree to sell call centre business - FT


Permira had been in exclusive talks with Alcatel-Lucent for several months, although a person close to the company, cited by the FT, said this was relaxed to allow interest from other groups.Genesys, which was acquired by Alcatel in 2000, sells software that is used in call centres and video conferencing.Both Alcatel-Lucent and Permira were unavailable for immediate comment.

UPDATE 4-US reveals Volcker rule’s murky ban on Wall St bets


* Industry, consumer groups complain about complexity* Proposal acknowledges fine line on proprietary tradingBy Dave Clarke and Alexandra AlperWASHINGTON, Oct 11 (Reuters) - U.S. regulators unveiled a ban on Wall Street banks’ trading for their own profit, but the long-awaited Volcker rule proposal was so complex that banks blasted it as unworkable and consumer groups dismissed it as too weak.The rule, required by last year’s Dodd-Frank financial oversight law, is aimed at avoiding a repeat of the 2007-2009 financial crisis by curbing excessive risk-taking.It has been difficult for the government to craft a rule that reins in Wall Street while protecting the trades that big banks execute on behalf of clients.Regulators are giving the public until Jan. 13, 2012, to comment. That is more time than expected, and could result in more pressure to change elements of the rule.”The proposal is written so that everybody has to lobby on it — it is not straight forward,” MF Global policy analyst Jaret Seiberg said.The proposal includes more than 350 questions that regulators want interested parties to weigh in on, particularly on how the government should write exemptions that allow banks to still make markets for their customers and hedge risk in their portfolios.”Only in today’s regulatory climate could such a simple idea become so complex, generating a rule whose preamble alone is 215 pages, with 381 footnotes to boot,” American Bankers Association Chief Executive Frank Keating said in a statement.”How can banks comply with a rule that complicated, and how can regulators effectively administer it in a way that doesn’t make it harder for banks to serve their customers and further weaken the broader economy?” he asked.On the other side of the issue, the consumer coalition Americans for Financial Reform said regulators warped a simple ban into a weak crackdown that is weighted toward preserving banks’ flexibility.”Unfortunately, the proposal issued today falls well short of what the Volcker Rule could and should achieve,” AFR said.The Federal Reserve and other bank regulators acknowledged in the proposal that it will be challenging for the government to identify “proprietary trading” that will be banned under the rule due, by law, to go into effect on July 21, 2012.The proposal said drawing the line between prohibited and permitted trading “often involves subtle distinctions that are difficult both to describe comprehensively within regulation and to evaluate in practice.”The rule is expected to have the most impact on large banks such as Goldman Sachs , Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase , and could trim billions of dollars in annual revenues.In a separate meeting of U.S. regulators on Tuesday, the Financial Stability Oversight Council proposed using a $50 billion asset test as it reviews which non-bank financial firms are large enough to warrant additional oversight.LONG RULE, COMPLEX ISSUESThe Volcker rule, named for former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker who championed the measure, aims to prevent banks from making risky trades by prohibiting short-term trading for their own profit in securities, derivatives and other financial products.It will also prohibit banks from investing in, or sponsoring, hedge funds or private equity funds.The idea behind the rule is to prevent banks that enjoy some sort of government safety net, such as deposit insurance on customer accounts or access to Fed money, from using that backstop to make money for themselves.Industry groups have argued for broad exemptions for trades done to make markets for customers, and for trades used to hedge against certain risks in the banks’ portfolios.The proposal includes both types of exemptions, but it is difficult to determine how they will work in practice.”There are enough vague descriptions that you can be bearish or bullish” about the impact on banks, said bank analyst David Konrad of Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.At a minimum, the proposed rule would increase costs and discourage firms from making markets in securities, said Dwight Smith, a partner at Morrison & Foerster LLP, a law firm which works with investment banks.”It calls for some very precise management of that business and some very detailed record-keeping,” said Smith. “It becomes very cumbersome.”EARNINGS IMPACTThe impact of the proposed rule will likely be discussed with investors as banks host quarterly earnings calls starting Thursday with JPMorgan.Some analysts have said the proposed rule could severely hit fixed-income trading for Wall Street brokers, resulting in 25 percent less in revenues.Regulators on Tuesday acknowledged that controversy has surrounded the Volcker rule from the outset.”The proposed rule has been noted as long, the issues are complex, so I think we made the right decision in allowing the full 90 days for comment,” said John Walsh, acting director of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which oversees the nation’s largest banks.Walsh spoke at a meeting of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp board which agreed on Tuesday to put the proposal out for comment. The Securities and Exchange Commission is due to discuss the Volcker rule proposal at a meeting on Wednesday. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission has yet to announce how it will proceed.The proposal released by bank regulators on Tuesday is largely similar to a draft of the rule leaked last week that received a mixed reaction from industry groups.The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, for instance, raised concerns about whether the exemption for market-making trades is too narrow.Randy Snook, a SIFMA executive vice president, said on Tuesday that financial firms need to be able to provide capital and liquidity to markets. “There is a real legitimate concern here that everything gets cast as prop trading. This isn’t just about speculative activity, in our mind,” Snook said.Charles Whitehead, a professor at Cornell Law School and a former investment bank lawyer, said the draft offers a potentially unworkable maze of tests to distinguish proprietary trading from market-making transactions.”We may create a real spider web of regulations that will be costly for the firms and almost impossible for the regulators to monitor,” Whitehead said.