Bess Levin

Posts by Bess Levin

A question that many have asked themselves and others since Bill Ackman announced he was shorting shake and supplement company Herbalife is, “Okay, but for how long? When does it end?” The Pershing Square founder and his team could very well be right in classifying the organization as a pyramid scheme, but central to their argument is that the government is going to shut this thing down, and that might not happen. Will Pershing keep its position forever? Long after Bill retires and for many years after that? Will CEO Michael Johnson ever be free from this man who haunts his dreams or will Ackman always be there, watching, waiting? In an interview yesterday, the most passionate hedge fund manager to ever live said basically yes to the latter. Read more »

As you’ve probably heard by now, hedge fund manager Ken Griffin is getting divorced, having served his wife Anne with papers at some point yesterday afternoon. So, it’s sad times at Casa de Griffin, made even sadder by the fact that the Citadel founder may be parting with a good chunk of his milkshake allowance at some point in the near future. Read more »

As you’ve probably heard by now, Bill Ackman gave a little presentation yesterday, on his favorite supplement and diet shakes company, Herbalife. Prior to the event, the Pershing Square founder appeared on CNBC hyping up the thing so hard that he came extremely close to promising video of CEO Michael Johnson threatening to fire employees who refused to snort lethal dosages of Formula 1 Healthy Nutritional Shake Mix (Wild Berry flavor) up their noses. So when the presentation failed to deliver, the disappointment across Wall Street was palpable. Pershing Square investors, however, know a good thing when they see it, and are unfazed. Read more »


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Over at Dealbook today, you will find a story about how banks like JP Morgan and BofA are “devising low-fee banking especially for customers with troubled finances,” in spite of the fact that such products are “not expected to make the bank[s] any profit.” And while many argue that the sole motivation is to garner some good PR after doing things like foreclosing on someone who wasn’t in default and stealing her parrot, to boot, it’s nevertheless a nice thing to do. Not having much familiarity with how the other other other half lives, it took some time to figure out how to best serve the needs of these new clients, who Bank America started a sociology department to study. Read more »

Yesterday we learned that back in December, the Federal Reserve sent a letter to Deutsche Bank, telling management, in essence, that it ought to set fire to its U.S. operations and collect the insurance money, then get out of the banking business. If the powers that be at DB insisted on sticking with this thing, they’d have a lot of work cut out for themselves, as the Fed’s criticism included the words:

  • “low quality”
  • “inaccurate”
  • “unreliable”
  • “size and breadth of errors”
  • “poor data integrity”
  • “systemic breakdown”
  • “significant operational risk”
  • “misstated regulatory reports”
  • “requires wide-ranging remedial action”

Clearly, this news would be bad enough on its own, but what really tops it off is that, hilariously, Deutsche’s CFO has devoted 100 percent of his efforts to making this operation what it is today. Read more »

Yes, of course it’s theoretically possible that management could go through and fix everything that’s wrong with the firm’s U.S. operations but, really, this is more of a tear down job. Read more »

Next month in Jackson Hole, central bankers and various hangers on will assemble for the social event of the year, if you’re a person who likes to discuss monetary policy over canapés. This time around, though, economists from Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and other banks won’t be in attendance, because in a fit of oh no they di’nt-ness from the hosts at the Kansas City Fed, they weren’t invited. Read more »