Bess Levin

Posts by Bess Levin

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The firm, which is accused of lacking the objectivity and integrity expected of consultants but not actually breaking the law, agreed to pay the fine and accept the two-year sidelining of its regulatory consulting unit. PricewaterhouseCoopers appeared to have had little choice: Mr. Lawsky’s office, which has the authority under a little-known New York law to censure erring consultants even without a legal violation, threatened to otherwise inflict a more sweeping and lengthy prohibition…The settlement involves the firm’s work for the Japanese banking giant, which regulators long suspected of routing money through its New York branches on behalf of nations blacklisted by the United States. The bank voluntarily hired PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2007 to quantify its improper transactions with Iran and other sanctioned countries. [Dealbook]

Banks are said to have made their best offers this week. Read more »

Unless you’ve avoided Facebook or other forms of social media these last couple weeks, you know that people are raising money for ALS by dumping buckets of ice water on their heads. As a fan of water-based challenges and an opponent of terrible diseases, this thing was right in JP Morgan’s wheelhouse. A firm-wide email was sent around yesterday asking people to sign up to get dumped on today at 3PM outside the 270 Park Ave HQ, with $100 donated for every participant (total amount donated was $150,000). The bank “provided big individual orange buckets for all, as well as free tee-shirts.” Read more »

Would it have been nice to visit Channing and Jonah on the set of the third installment? Sure. Did a small part of him want to direct? Yes. Did he feel he could’ve brought a Queens school-yard authenticity to things? You betcha. But these are not the things that keep him up at night. Read more »

Is the temptation to check your work email while on vacation stronger than your weak, easily manipulated self? Do you make a big show of saying you’re not going to even look at your phone the whole time you’re away, and the sneak into the bathroom and turn the faucets on to cover up the tapping noises like some kind of email junkie? After everyone has gone to bed, do hear your phone calling out to you, saying “Check it…come on, just check it, just for a second. I’m not gonna rat you out.” Have you tried everything from leaving your phone at home only to break out in a separation anxiety-induced rash, to rigging up your device so that any attempts to check your inbox result in an electromagnetic shock to your scrotum, which does nothing to solve the problem but does leave you with third degree burns?

Or maybe you’re able to resist the temptation but to sneak a peek, but return from your time away with a feeling of total dread, knowing there are thousands of messages to respond to from people who don’t understand the words “I’ll be out of the office for the next two weeks”? Have you come to terms with all this and are now the point that you just want help?

If you work in the United States, tough shit. Your company isn’t going to be happy until it sees you crawling around on the cobblestoned streets of Rome, attempting to collect the millions of little pieces your phone splintered into when, in a fit of disgust with yourself, you threw it to the ground and watched it shatter, moments before shouting “Sweet Jesus, what have I done?!” and “No, wait, I think I can fix this.” If you happen to be in Germany and employed by Daimler, today is your lucky day. Read more »

With its peso currency at record lows, foreign reserves down more than 5 percent over the last year and vast shale oil and gas resources laying undeveloped in its southern Patagonia region, Argentina is desperate to tap foreign financing. But the debt case, which stems from Argentina’s default on nearly $100 billion in sovereign bonds 12 years ago, is blocking its access to the international bond market. “Today we are in the hands of an international financial power comprised of small, voracious interests that form a real international mafia,” Jorge Capitanich, the Cabinet chief and government spokesman, told reporters in Buenos Aires. Many Argentines side with their government against a group of hedge funds that rejected the country’s 2005 and 2010 debt restructurings in which holders received less than 30 cents on the dollar. Holdout funds led by Elliott Management Corp and Aurelius Capital Management bought Argentine bonds at a discount before and after the 2002 default and have pressed their demand for payment of 100 cents on the dollar in the U.S. courts. [Reuters]

HSBC has given 15 of its top bankers “fixed pay allowance arrangements” worth £7.1m under a controversial new pay scheme designed to dodge tough new European Union rules on bankers’ bonuses…The awards are part of big banks’ plans to increase the basic pay of executives to sidestep tough new EU rules designed to clamp down on excessive bonuses. Banks have turned to awarding fixed pay allowances after the EU ruled to cap bonuses to 200% of salary, even if shareholders wanted to approve higher payments. The new payments are counted as fixed pay, which means banks can, with shareholder approval, pay bonuses of 200% of bankers’ collective basic pay and fixed pay allowances. The fresh money, which is not subject to clawbacks designed to retrospectively recoup bonuses in the event of any wrongdoing emerging in the future, covers the first half of the year – and bankers can look forward to further payments every three months. A fifth of the shares will vest in March 2015, with the rest locked up until 2020. [Guardian]