Weil's View on Finance

Jonathan Weil joined Bloomberg News as a columnist in 2007, and his columns on finance and accounting won Best in the Business awards from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 2009 and 2010.
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Greetings, View fans. Here is some of what I've been reading this morning.

The latest on the JPMorgan investigation in China

Now the Justice Department has joined the probe, which focuses on whether the bank hired children of powerful government officials as a way to get business. One of the things it has turned up is "an internal spreadsheet that linked appointments to specific deals pursued by the bank," Dawn Kopecki of Bloomberg News reports. A sign of the times: Little black books have given way to Excel.

Big Four accounting firms and lousy audits

Caleb Newquist of Going Concern covers the lowlights from the latest inspection reports on PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and KPMG LLP, where the accounting firms' regulator reported finding lots of audit failures. "None of these firms are even close to what a reasonable person would want to see from the most prestigious audit firms on Earth," he says. "Audit quality, to me anyway, is just a made-up phrase that doesn't have any practical meaning."

Big trading gains draw rebuke at Danish bank

Danske Bank A/S, which has assets twice the size of Denmark's gross domestic product, said it was reprimanded by its regulator for a lack of risk controls after a surge in revenue. It seems the bank's value-at-risk models need some more work.

Consulting firms could use some consulting help

John Gapper has a good column in the Financial Times about strategy consultants in search of a strategy: "Consultancy is in a funk as midsized partnerships with venerable names, such as Booz & Co and Roland Berger, realize they have to do something but cannot decide on what." Obviously what the industry needs is a new consulting firm to advise them at all at $1,000 an hour.

What has changed since Lehman Brothers failed?

We're going to be seeing a lot of these, now that the five-year anniversary is approaching. This comes from John Cassidy of the New Yorker: "The problems going into 2007-08 can be summarized under four headings: excessive borrowing, flawed compensation structures, weak regulation, and moral hazard. In each of these areas, some necessary reforms have been introduced, but they haven't gone far enough. As a result, there's still the potential for another crisis, another bailout, and another angry populace." Yep.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Jonathan Weil at jweil16@bloomberg.net