In an interesting -- not to say wildly speculative -- essay, Slate Magazine's Karim Bardeesy says that Apple should take some of its $28 billion and start a bank.
During Wednesday's conference call, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer made it clear that the company was looking to keep its cash right where it is. Anecdotal evidence suggests that now might not exactly be the best time to get one's feet wet in high finance, but Bardeesy does make a few interesting points.
First, if Apple takes $15 billion of its own cash, at "regulated reserve ratios," Apple could offer $100 billion in loans. Couple that with the company's tech savvy and trustworthy brand, Bardeesy says, and you're looking at an opportunity to "revolutionize the industry."
Second, Bardeesy suggests creating an internet-only bank, taking deposits from everyday people -- via an iPhone fund transfer app, of course. He says the rise of Internet banks isn't unprecedented: just look at how popular they were in Iceland! (Ignore for now those banks' participation in the total collapse of Iceland's banking system.)
And how about a slice of that sweet, sweet government bailout? Apple can have some -- if it's a bank. "Goodie side benefits to banking status include access to some of that TARP money and a steady revenue stream to smooth out any bumps in retail demand for other Apple products," he writes. Contradictorily, in his final sentence, Bardeesy chides the banking industry for "pocketing taxpayer billions while sending nary a penny [his] way." You can't have it both ways, buddy.
In sum, Bardeesy admits that "Apple has prided itself on sticking to its knitting and not indulging in diversionary acquisitions or enterprises." He claims, however, that "an exception can be made when economy and country are at stake and profits are on the table."
Can it? Really?
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