Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, October 11, 2021

You got $25 grand burning a hole in your pocket? Slide that wad over to Bank of America, where it will entitle you to 30 commission-free online brokerage trades per month.

“This is really going to be a battle over the next few years,” said Lauren Bender, manager of the wealth management group at independent research and consulting firm Celent LLC. “This is a big threat to brokerage firms because while they may have great technology for financial services, they lack the feet on the ground that some of the banks have.”

And that’s exactly what Bank of America is counting on. The company, which already has the maximum of 10 percent market share in deposits allowed by regulators and therefore cannot acquire other financial institutions, boasts more than 5,700 retail banking offices across much of the country. Part of the goal of marketing this type of initiative is to convince consumers to do all of their banking in one central place.

All of which means that you can deposit and lose all your money without having to incur any wire-transfer fees. Brilliant!

Actually, given the regulatory cap on any further conventional bank business expansion, this represents a resourceful way for BofA to dig into new business. Add this to other sidelines like insurance services, and the vision of a financial services supermarket comes into focus. Ultimately, consumers will have to decide whether or not it’s ideal to have all their eggs in the same basket, basically commoditizing their personal finances.

How do the pure-play brokerages counter? Commissions are the lifeblood of the industry, and BofA’s waiving of them is a loss-leader tactic to grab market share. The only immediate differentiator is that of focus — they can claim dedication, versus BofA’s various business dealings. I don’t think the research and technology resources angle is convincing; BofA has plenty of that through its Bank of America Investment Services division.

Even though this news does concern my primary bank, I’m afraid I’m not in a position to take them up on it. I’ll have to stick with my TD Ameritrade account, even though its been dormant since sometime during the dot-com boom.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/11/2021 11:33:23 PM
Category: Business
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Robin Williams, on “Late Show with David Letterman” a couple of nights ago, dropped a real peach of a quip to describe what led to his recent rehab stint:

“I was violating my standards faster than I could lower them.”

An appropriate barometer for all of us, actually. Although perhaps rehab isn’t the answer for everyone…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/11/2021 10:40:31 PM
Category: Celebrity, Wordsmithing
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Along with the aforementioned Cory Lidle plane crash on 72nd, a miserable rainstorm made for a deary New York afternoon. The result — as is always the case whenever the weather is foul — was a stuffed-to-the-gills subway system. It was a pressed-flesh hassle just to worm through one platform to the next.

There was a sliver of mirth in the experience. One of the underground musical performers, an amplified guitar duo, was meandering through a pained version of Prince’s “Purple Rain”. It was fairly offkey, but made up for that with earnestness, and circumstantial timeliness.

Even though most of the crowd continued shuffling along, seemingly oblivious, I couldn’t help but crack a smile. I’m sure they probably launch into it every time it rains, so the spontaneity isn’t there; but so what? You take your ray of sunshine wherever you can, even if it’s below street level.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/11/2021 10:31:28 PM
Category: New Yorkin', Pop Culture, Weather
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I suppose that, for the foreseeable future, every aviation accident that happens in Manhattan will be accompanied by that sinking sense of dread. Somehow, the property damage and the loss of life become mere details beside the immediate question of possible motive.

In any case, terrorism was quickly considered, then summarily dismissed, as the reason for this afternoon’s plane crash at the Belaire Apartments on East 72nd Street and York Avenue. Among the casualties was Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, who was piloting the craft.

I was in a meeting when the news hit. I wasn’t really anywhere near the site: As you can see, my office near Columbus Circle is clear across town. But there was plenty of buzzing as people checked the Web and made phone calls, and you could hear the fire engines and police cruisers shrieking down the street. Again, in the first several minutes, the prospect of a terror attack kept things on edge.

I don’t think I know anyone who lived in that building. Naturally, I ran down a mental list, short as it was (I don’t know a ton of people in the City yet, and those I do know are in my usual haunts). I had a few minutes of panic just minutes ago, when I thought of someone who might have lived in that neighborhood; I was deciding on whether to call her or send a text message when I doublechecked and realized she’s actually on the Upper West Side, not the East Side. Some small relief.

Anyway, the details on this will be forthcoming. As it is, one day of it was enough.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 10/11/2021 10:14:08 PM
Category: Baseball, New Yorkin'
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