John Paczkowski

Recent Posts by John Paczkowski

Lehman Brothers: $2.5 Billion for a Bankruptcy Well Done

Finally, some reassuring news amid all this economic woe. The United States financial system is suffering the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. The Treasury is planning to buy up to $700 billion in bad debt. But things are looking up for the long-suffering employees of investment bank Lehman Brothers.

But wait. Wasn’t it Lehman that filed for bankruptcy just last week?

Yes, it was.

But as luck would have it, that sorry, sorry turn of events apparently had no effect on the $2.5 billion the bank set aside for staff bonuses. So, according to The Independent, Barclays, which is buying Lehman Brothers for $1.75 billion, plans to make good on those bonuses, though it has no obligation to do so.

Two-and-a-half billion. Plus whatever portion of that $39 billion they were given last year. And then there are the pay and severance packages. Lehman Brothers Chairman and CEO Richard Fuld Jr. made $34 million in 2007. He also banked $490 million from selling Lehman stock.

Such is the price of failure.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work