Here’s a morbid bit of creative accounting, courtesy of the Wall Street Journal: if you work for Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, or Wells Fargo, your employer may have taken out a life insurance policy on you.
So, remember those bonuses everyone was so mad about? Well, it turns out that they were bigger than originally disclosed. A lot bigger.
Let’s pause a moment to consider this sentence from Crain’s Chicago Business. “On the same day the Chicago Tribune cut 53 jobs from its newsroom, its parent Tribune Co. asked a Bankruptcy Court to approve of $13.3 million in bonuses and other incentive payments to 703 employees.”
Here is a resignation letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G. It was published in the New York Times.
You can put down your pitchforks, NY AG Cuomo told reporters this afternoon that most of the AIG big bonus receivers had agreed to return their bonuses. 9 of the top 10 bonus recipients, and 10 of the 15 bonus recipients in the infamous financial products services division, will return their monies. The holdouts were mainly overseas workers and those outside NY jurisdiction. The total remittance comes to about $30 million. Great, can we get back to fixing the economy now? Thanks.
AIG has complied with Andrew Cuomo’s subpoena and turned over the names of the bonus recipients. The NY AG has released a statement about the issue, which you can read inside.
The Washington Post says that the House will vote this afternoon on a bill that would seek to impose a 90% tax on the AIG bonuses. The Senate Finance Committee is also working on similar legislation, but have not yet scheduled a vote.
The AIG furor continues as it turns out Obama and Congress knew about the AIG bonuses for months but previously, on the advice of lawyers, felt powerless to stop them. Question for the audience: is figuring out what happened with the AIG bonuses fundamentally important to get the economy back on track, or is it just another media circus sideshow?Obama, Congress knew about AIG bonuses for months [AP] (Photo: Marc oh!] (Thanks to Jeffrey!)
Another day, another livid politician. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa told a Cedar Rapids radio station that the AIG executives who are taking bonuses should, as an alternative, kill themselves.
Andrew Cuomo has written a letter to AIG in which he explains that they will turn over the names of those employees from the Financial Products subsidiary (that’s the division that brought down the company) who are receiving bonuses by 4:00 pm today or they are coming at them with subpoenas. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it’s another awesome Andrew Cuomo letter after the jump.
So, those guys at AIG who underwrote trillions of dollars worth of credit default swaps backed by securitized mortgages? The ones the Times says were “at the very heart of A.I.G.’s worldwide conflagration?” They’re taking $165 million of our bailout money for bonuses. Because if we don’t pay them, these people—described by AIG’s government-appointed Chairman Ed Liddy as the “best and brightest talent”—will apparently leave to go ruin some other country’s financial system, and we can’t have that. Liddy acknowledged that the bonuses were “distasteful and difficult” before saying that he had “grave concern about the long-term consequences” of not paying up.
The NY AG has served Bank of America with a subpoena after they refused to release the names of the individuals who received over $3 billion in bonuses while Merrill Lynch was hemorrhaging money.
Merrill Lynch CEO: "Nothing Happened In The World Or The Economy" That Would Justify Suspending Bonuses
New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo wrote a letter yesterday to Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), head of the House Financial Services Committee, (which is currently holding hearings Washington on how banks are spending bailout funds.) In the letter, Cuomo expresses concern that Merrill Lynch moved up their bonus schedule so that they could make sure that taxpayers would get the bill.
Bonuses are for a job well done, right? Well, despite the economic disaster, it seems that the folks on Wall Street rewarded themselves with $18.4 billion in bonuses in 2008, which is around the same amount as they received in 2004 — when the Dow was “flying above 10,000, on its way to a record high,” says the New York Times.
Activist shareholders forced big changes at a Washington Mutual stockholder’s meeting last week, especially the reversal of a much-criticized decision to exclude subprime losses when calculating executive bonus pay. Washington Mutual was one of the lenders cavorting the most eagerly in the refuse trough of subprime lending, and has endured some of the largest losses as a result. Other key shareholder wins included splitting the CEO and Chairman position, and the resignation of several key board members. Nice job, activist shareholders, way to wake the hell up long after the damage was done.