Bethany McLean

How corporate jets fly under shareholder radar

By Bethany McLean
May 28, 2014

F

Men’s apparel retailer Jos. A. Bank may be best known for its incessant advertisements of all the merchandise it has on sale. “Could they advertise more? Could they sell less?” quipped Jerry Seinfeld. “We’ll give you three suits for $8! Just take it! Get it out of here!”

from The Great Debate:

Fannie and Freddie are more complicated than that

By Ralph Nader
February 21, 2014

This article was written in response to “How Ralph Nader learned to love Fannie and Freddie” (February 18) by Bethany McLean.

How Ralph Nader learned to love Fannie and Freddie

By Bethany McLean
February 18, 2014

Corrects story issued February 18 in third-to-last paragraph regarding efforts to contact Ralph  Nader.

Is Steve Cohen the real target in this trial?

By Bethany McLean
February 5, 2014

The fate of Mathew Martoma, the former SAC Capital portfolio manager charged with the biggest insider trade in history — more than $275 million in profits and avoided losses, says the government — is now in the hands of a 12-person jury, which began deliberations in a Manhattan courthouse Tuesday afternoon.

Where is the political accountability for America’s pension disasters?

By Bethany McLean
December 11, 2013

Five years after the financial crisis, there’s still a hue and cry about sending people to jail. After all, financiers were, at best, self-servingly optimistic about the future. At worst, they said things that weren’t true, and made promises they couldn’t keep. Investigations are still ongoing, and although it’s doubtful, maybe some big guys will go to jail. But there’s another group of people who have injured, and are continuing to injure, millions of Americans with purposefully blind optimism and false promises. Those are politicians in every city and state that is facing a pension shortfall.

The top five unlearned lessons of the financial crisis

By Bethany McLean
September 24, 2013

In capital we trust. Capital is our savior, our holy grail, our fountain of youth, or at least health, for banks. Seriously, how many times have you read that more capital will save the banks from another Armageddon? Even the banks point to capital as a reason to have faith. “Financial institutions have also been working alongside regulators to make themselves and the financial system stronger, more transparent, more resilient and more accountable,” wrote Rob Nichols of the Financial Services Forum, which is made up of the chief executive officers of 19 big U.S. financial institutions. “Specifically, capital, which protects banks from unexpected losses, has doubled since 2009.” If you were a cynic — who, me? — you might say that the mere fact that the banks are pointing to capital is proof that capital is not all that.

Taking government out of the mortgage business is harder than it looks

By Bethany McLean
August 20, 2013

Limbo. That’s the word most people use to describe the state of affairs in a critical part of our economy — housing finance. The government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which were nationalized almost five years ago with the seemingly noble goal of eventually getting rid of them, now back some 90 percent of American mortgages. So much for good riddance!

The crackdown on bank misbehavior masks a troubling reality

By Bethany McLean
August 7, 2013

“Ex Goldman Trader Found Guilty for Misleading Investors.” “Bond Deal Draws Fine for UBS.” “JPMorgan Settles Electricity Manipulation Case for $410 million.” “Deutsche Bank Net Profit Halves on Charge For Potential Legal Costs.” “US Sues Bank of America Over Mortgage Securities.” “Senate Opens Probe of Banks’ Commodities Businesses.” “US Regulators Find Evidence of Banks Fixing Derivatives Rates.” “Goldman Sachs Sued for Allegedly Inflating Aluminum Prices.”

The folly of trying to level the investment playing field

By Bethany McLean
July 25, 2013

The government is cracking down on insider trading; isn’t that great news for you? Last Friday, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged hedge fund mogul Steve Cohen with failing to supervise two employees who themselves face insider trading charges; on Thursday morning the Justice Department filed criminal charges against his firm, SAC Capital. Earlier this summer, the news broke that New York’s attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, was investigating the early release (by Thomson Reuters, which publishes this column) of the University of Michigan’s widely-watched index on consumer sentiment to a group of investors. Faced with a court order, Thomson Reuters agreed to suspend the practice, while asserting that “news and information companies can legally distribute non-governmental data and exclusive news through services provided to fee-paying subscribers.”

How much does Jamie Dimon matter?

By Bethany McLean
May 21, 2013

So today is the day.  After weeks of near-constant coverage of the big decision — will JPMorgan Chase shareholders keep Jamie Dimon as chairman and CEO or relegate him to just CEO? — the verdict came at JPMorgan’s annual meeting in Tampa, Florida:  Dimon gets to keep both titles. The next question is whether the result will get as much press as the original question did.