Pop quiz: What do you do if you’re the last vestige of Lehman Brothers, the banking and investment company whose demise was the biggest bankruptcy filing in U.S. history and now you’re in the post-bankruptcy process of slowly unraveling the clusterfuck that you caused in the world economy? Do you a) feel really sorry and promise never to be in charge of more than $15 of anyone else’s money for the entire rest of your life, or b) give your employees $44 million in bonuses, because even though they work for the remains of the company that started a global financial meltdown, they’re still swell! Yeah, this quiz was too easy, ugh, the answer is b. And we ask ourselves, once again, how is it that Occupy didn’t end up with heads on spikes?
After filing for bankruptcy in 2008 and then exiting bankruptcy after being sold as a reorganized company with a new board of directors in 2012, Lehman Brothers Holdings (as the sad remainder of the company is called) is continuing to sell off its assets in order to pay back its creditors, a process that takes years. And during that time, employees keep getting bonuses. In 2013, the post-bankruptcy employees received $50 million in bonuses, while in 2014, they only received $44 million. Sadface.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Lehman has previously said it expects to pay its postbankruptcy employees and other outside professionals about $1.1 billion over the next three-plus years.
Meanwhile, the nine board members of Lehman Brothers Holdings:
received $5.2 million in incentive payments, according to court papers. The incentive payments are based on a sliding scale linked to “value” distributed to unsecured creditors, the speed of the distributions and the reduction of claims against Lehman.
Which is approximately $578,000 in “incentive payments” to each board member. Seriously, how can we get a job like this, getting an unbelievably sweet bonus while unraveling the transactions of the defunct bank that helped wreck the world economy?
To be honest, while $44 million in bonuses paid among a few hundred employees (about $146,000 in bonuses each) is an extremely lovely amount of money to most normal people, you are probably aware that a Wall Street bank-type biz could act in a much, MUCH more egregious fashion. Let us even use Lehman Brothers as our example! In 2007, before the market collapsed, 50 of Lehman’s top employees made $700 million (an average of $14 million in total compensation each, with some receiving $8 million and some receiving $50 million). If you look at it that way, the ones who are getting $146,000 this year are probably sitting around crying. But here’s who’s really crying — the rest of us. The median household income in 2013 in U.S. America was $51,939, and most of us do NOT get $10 million or $146,ooo or even $1,000 in bonus money. Ever.
The moral of this story is probably that it is so hard to be an employee working for post-bankruptcy Lehman, because you will not make pre-2008 bonuses ever again, until you find another job with a bank that’s still alive, like Goldman Sachs, where this jerk sued last year because his $8 million bonus wasn’t big enough. Just kidding, the moral of this story is that if you thought anyone associated with Lehman or post-Lehman or any Wall Street bank has learned anything from crashing the world economy and the optics of rewarding people for that terrible behavior, you are WRONG.