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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bloomberg.com: Worldwide - failed

July 12 (Bloomberg) -- Almost all of Apple Inc.'s stores in the U.S. reported they will have the iPhone 3G to sell, a day after thousands lined up to buy the handset and emptied most of AT&T Inc.'s inventory.

Apple, which has 187 stores in 38 states, will have the $199, 8-gigabyte model in black and 16-gigabyte versions in black and white at the majority of its shops today, according to a tally posted last night on Apple's Web site.

The iPhone 3G, a new version that works with speedier third- generation networks, went on sale yesterday in the U.S. and 21 other countries. Apple's partners in the U.K., Germany, Canada and Japan said many shops ran out on the first day. AT&T, Apple's exclusive U.S. partner, said most of its 2,000 stores were out of supplies and that it expected new inventory within days.

``The Apple retail store likely has your iPhone 3G in stock,'' Cupertino, California-based Apple told visitors on its Web site. ``Shipments of iPhone 3G arrive most days.''

Apple was out of all three models at 16 stores, including its outlets in Los Gatos, California; Victor, New York; Cherry Hill, New Jersey; Madison, Wisconsin; and Knoxville, Tennessee. Apple's lone stores in Nebraska and in Iowa were out of supplies, leaving buyers there with no iPhones to buy today.

Shoppers seem to prefer the black, 16-gigabyte model, which sells for $299, based on the online tally. Customers must sign up for a two-year contract with AT&T at the time of purchase.

New York Supply

The New York store on Fifth Avenue, the only shop that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said it will have the Web-surfing handset available. So will Apple's other New York City stores in SoHo and on West 14th Street.

Apple said it will update its retail availability list each evening at 9 p.m. San Francisco time.

AT&T and online Apple fan sites said yesterday that some customers left stores without a working phone because of problems linking the device to Apple's iTune service, the last step in the activation process. AT&T told buyers told to link to iTunes from home. Apple spokesman Steve Dowling declined to comment.

At the SoHo store today, manager Khalil Smith said there have not been any problems with activation this morning. ``Things have been going really smoothly, and people are really happy,'' he said.

Long, Slow Line

Lines snaked around the block in New York, with about 50 customers taking their places by 7:30 a.m., said Matthew Gurgel.

``Every half-hour we move a little bit,'' said Magda Buccek, 21, of Brooklyn, who said she had thought the line would move more quickly.

Regine Klosebriganti of New York, 24, went to the Fifth Avenue Apple store last night at 1 a.m. New York time and was told the line was closed. ``It was a mob scene,'' she said. ``They said I could come back at 3 a.m. This is nothing compared to what they had there.''

``If you're selling a product of convenience, why do you put your customers through inconvenience?'' said Chad Stoller, 37, who left the line at the SoHo store, saying it wasn't worth the wait. He said he had expected the line to be much shorter, anticipating that activation issues from yesterday would deter people from buying the iPhone 3G.

Apple, also maker of Macintosh computers and iPod media players, fell $4.05 to $172.58 yesterday in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. Dallas-based AT&T dropped 19 cents to $32.58.

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Who's to Blame for IndyMac's Failure? - Seeking Alpha - SAVAGE LOSS

The $32 billion failure of U.S. mortgage lender IndyMac demonstrates just how differently the United States is governed than Canada. This from today’s Wall Street Journal:

 The director of the Office of Thrift Supervision, John Reich, blamed IndyMac’s failure on comments made in late June by Sen. Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.), who sent a letter to the regulator raising concerns about the bank’s solvency. In the following 11 days, spooked depositors withdrew a total of $1.3 billion. Mr. Reich said Sen. Schumer gave the bank a “heart attack.”

 “Would the institution have failed without the deposit run?” Mr. Reich asked reporters. “We’ll never know the answer to that question.”

 Mr. Schumer quickly fired back.

 “If OTS had done its job as regulator and not let IndyMac’s poor and loose lending practices continue, we wouldn’t be where we are today,” Sen. Schumer said. “Instead of pointing false fingers of blame, OTS should start doing its job to prevent future IndyMacs.”

You might be asking yourself, why is a New York Senator asking a regulator to look into a California bank’s “solvency”? Sen. Shumer is a member of multiple committees, each of which gives him a call on the financial markets and banking sector: Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs & Finance are two of his key Senate committees. He also Chairs the Senate Subcommittees on Economic Policy (Banking).

Having established that he has an oversight interest in the banking world, just what is he doing writing letters that could be seen to encourage panic on the part of depositors? When his staff sat around and discussed what to do before the letter was issued, they would have discussed the obvious risks to IndyMac’s solvency if a key U.S. Senator was raising concerns about solvency. At the same time, others would have advocated that “he has to be ahead of the issue” and “on the record” before Indymac hits the wall.

It’s not like Americans haven’t lived through a year of warnings (see prior post “US subprime borrowers sink deeper into trouble” June 15-07) about the financial health of small to mid-sized U.S. financial institutions. Many Californians lined up last summer to get their savings out of Countrywide Financial (CFC), for example (see prior post “Has the run started at Countrywide?” August 18-07). Moreover, Sen. Shumer’s anger appeared to be directed at the Office for Thrift Supervision, as much as it was at IndyMac’s management. I’m not sure that five votes in New York State tilt on whether or not Sen. Shumer was “out in front” on this issue or not. His profile is so high, and his power to get projects passed for N.Y. so clear, that his Senate seat is likely in the bag for several terms to come.

Which makes it all the more interesting that he got into the details of this specific situation. It appears to me that he was just doing his job. Which is probably more than you can say, as an outsider, for the Office of Thrift Supervision [OTS].

If the SEC continues to be AWOL on most of its mandate, and the OTS can’t help its charges avoid insolvency, huge corners of the U.S. capital markets fall to those members of Congress who are prepared to take the baton.

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