Weil on Finance, P.M.: Apple's Ticking IPhones

Here are links to my afternoon reading.

Howdy, View fans. Here are your annotated afternoon links.

Does Apple design iPhones to self-destruct ?

Ever had the feeling that your gadgets are designed to stop functioning properly just in time for the newest, latest version to come out? That's what Catherine Rampell of the New York Times began to suspect with her iPhone, and she got a fun magazine article out of it. The term is planned obsolescence, something once associated with a different U.S. industry. She writes: "In the past, consumers were so excited about the cool new features, like Siri, the voice-activated interface, that they may not have minded (or even noticed) if their old phones started to deteriorate; they planned on upgrading anyway. This time around, that's less true. The iPhone 5S and 5C offer fewer quantum improvements. Consumers are more likely to want their old phones to continue working at peak condition in perpetuity, and to feel cheated when they don't." By the way, what's left of that other industry is usually associated with the city of Detroit.

Another prominent bubble call

This one comes from Larry Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock Inc., which is the world's largest money manager. "It's imperative that the Fed begins to taper," he said today. "We've seen real bubble-like markets again." He was referring to both the equity and corporate-bond markets.

Speaking of Fed-fueled euphoria ...

The housing market keeps soaring. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of prices in 20 big U.S. metro areas rose 12.8 percent in August, compared with year-earlier results. Every city showed gains. Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco and Los Angeles were all up more than 20 percent. Even Detroit was up 16 percent. The index is back to mid-2004 levels (also known as the housing bubble). Can a surge this big and this sudden be healthy?

Deal or no deal?

The Wall Street Journal this afternoon reported that JPMorgan Chase's civil settlement with the Justice Department could fall apart. We already knew about one sticking point: Whether JPMorgan could pass along some of the Washington Mutual-related costs to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. Here's a new one: "On Sunday night, lawyers for the bank also offered a proposed deal that could give the bank extra legal protection from criminal probes -- something the Justice Department leadership isn't willing to accept," the paper reported, citing unnamed people familiar with the talks.

E-mail of the day

"Don't worry mate -- there's bigger crooks in the market than us guys!" That was written in September 2007 by a yen Libor trader at Rabobank Groep. The person was identified by the Justice Department only as "Submitter-4," as part of a deferred-prosecution deal with the Dutch lender. No doubt he was right.

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