Colbert for President: A Run or a Comedy Riff? [NYT]
Mr. Colbert, the Comedy Central television host, has made jokes at the expense of super PACs for months — forming his own group, soliciting money for it, then running an ad that featured Buddy Roemer, a long-shot candidate who has criticized the Supreme Court decision that allows the existence of the free-spending PACs so long as they do not explicitly coordinate with candidates. On Thursday night’s “Colbert Report,” Mr. Colbert took it a big step further, handing control of his group to his friend and fellow host Jon Stewart so that he can legally run for president, or at least pretend to. Mr. Colbert, who has comically flirted with — and mocked the possibility of — runs for political office before, said he would form an “exploratory committee for president of the United States of South Carolina.”
US federal budget deficit about $47B less in first quarter of 2012 budget year than 2011 [WaPo]
The federal deficit was lower in the first quarter of the 2012 budget year than the same period last year. Yet, the imbalance remains high by historical standards and should keep lawmakers debating tax increases and spending cuts through Election Day. The Treasury Department said Thursday the deficit was $86 billion in December. And it was $322 billion through the first three months of the budget year — $47 billion less than the same time last year.
SEC eyes two for audit watchdog board: sources [Reuters]
The Securities and Exchange Commission is considering appointing either University of Tennessee professor Joseph Carcello or Jeanette Franzel, a managing director of financial management and assurance at the Government Accountability Office, these people said. Whomever the SEC decides to tap would replace PCAOB board member Daniel Goelzer, whose term expired in October.
Accounting Quirk Lurks as Wild Card in Banks' Earnings [WSJ]
Accounting rules that helped U.S. banks list billions of dollars in paper gains on derivatives in the third quarter of 2011—boosting their bottom lines—may now work against some banks as they post losses in that area in the fourth quarter. The losses, paradoxically produced because the value of the banks' bonds rose in recent weeks, stem from an accounting rule called a "debit valuation adjustment" that permits banks to record unrealized gains when the value of their own bonds declines. The possible losses couldn't come at a worse time for banks, threatening to knock their stocks off course just as they are gaining momentum.