Bess Levin

Posts by Bess Levin

The good news: Bill Gross is taking baby steps toward being comfortable with employees looking him in the eye and one day might even be able to sustain an entire conversation in which no one averts their gaze. The less good news: performance year to date. Read more »

As those of you who keep close tabs on the trials and travails of La Familia Falcone know, one of the biggest mistakes Phil made in the last several years was the time he borrowed $113 million from a gated investor fund to cover personal taxes, for which he had failed to set aside enough cash. Falcone learned the hard way that clients don’t take kindly to these sorts of things– even if you pay them back, with interest– and that the Securities and Exchange Commission doesn’t either. Point taken, all that jazz. In retrospect, it might even make sense to Phil re: why people got upset. Having said that, there is no way he, or anyone for that matter, could have predicted anyone would get their panties in a twist over this: Read more »

  • 28 Mar 2014 at 12:57 PM

Ben Bernanke No Cheap Date

Sure, he’ll accept your dinner invitation. But it’s gonna cost ya. The former Fed Chair doesn’t get out of bed/attend speaking engagements, pan roasted truffled squab or not, for less than a quarter mill. Read more »

  • 28 Mar 2014 at 12:42 PM

SAC Capital Throws Itself Upon The Mercy Of The Court

They’ve changed their name. They’ve given back the money. They’ve cried it out atop the fleeces. What other lessons could possibly be learned? Don’t make Steve Cohen walk up and down Park Avenue wearing a sandwich board that reads “I employ insider traders” on the front and “LOTS of ‘em” on the back.1 Read more »

You may know “Mesmeralda,” AKA Marni Halasa, from her other roles as the Bank Reform Bitch, Better Banking Butterfly, and Ethical Fiscal Fairy, among other things. Today she paid a visit to NYS Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s office at 59 Maiden Lane to “push for divesting from fossil fuel investments in the NYS Common Retirement Fund” and “knock some sense into” Mr. DiNapoli, leaving a strongly worded note outside the building, in case her message wasn’t clear. Read more »

On October 16, 2013, Mike Mayo wrote the following in a report to clients: “Citi is now more on the right long-term track than at anytime in the past decade.” It was a remarkable line because, as Mayo himself noted, “nobody’s been more negative on [Citi] than me.” That negativity has included:

But five months without demanding a senior exec pack up his things leave is a long time, far long enough some might say, so now this is happening: Read more »

Back in the day, JP Morgan had no issue with managing the investment account of Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s charitable foundation. Then the bank’s reputation took a hit in the eyes of the regulatory industry, and started paying multi-billion dollar fines, and had its hiring practices in China questioned, and it was forced to reevaluate some of the people with whom it did business. At the same time, SAE was setting records for deaths “linked to drinking, drugs and hazing,” and someone decided JPM had enough bad publicity of its own without being linked to an organization that makes people strip down to their underwear, stand in a trash can filled with ice, and recite a credo about what it means to be a “true gentlemen.”

That JP Morgan, it of $23 billion “to resolve regulatory and criminal investigations,” of rogue whales, of possible Foreign Corrupt Practices violations, decided it could be hurt by an association with SAE was extremely troubling to national President Bradley Cohen. “If JPMorgan is going to turn us down, who’s next?” he wondered aloud to Bloomberg. “What if universities start saying SAE’s not welcome?” The thought was too much to bear, so he did a bunch of thinking and decided that pledging could no longer be part of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon way.

A lot of people, like the parents of kids who died trying to get into the fraternity, thought this was a good move. One Oklahoman, did not. Read more »

  • 27 Mar 2014 at 2:51 PM

Ken Lewis To Continue Cooling His Heels For A While

Bank of America Corp. and former Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis took big steps to put the financial crisis behind them by paying state and federal agencies to settle lawsuits over the acquisitions of Countrywide Financial Corp. and Merrill Lynch & Co…Mr. Lewis agreed to pay $10 million and accept a three-year ban from work at any public company as part of the New York settlement. Bank of America will cover Mr. Lewis’s penalty, according to people familiar with the deal. Mr. Lewis neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing. [WSJ]