The saga of the $4 billion in bonuses paid to collapsed Merrill Lynch just got funnier for everyone except the people who received the money. Having subpoenaed ousted Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain (and the head of Bank of America, which took the firm over) about the bonuses, AG Andrew Cuomo is said to consider demanding that Merrill’s bonus army return their ill-gotten gains. Both Merrill Lynch and Bank of America received substantial TARP funds, and Cuomo, like President Obama, is sensitive about recipients using it to reward their employees’ incompetence. Also, Britain’s Here is the City says that Bank of America staff exhibit “growing anger” because their bonuses will probably get “locked out” for a couple of years because of the Merrill business and ensuing stink.
(The Brits tend to find this sort of thing funnier than we dour, puritanical Yanks. Financial Times suggests that, to show contrition for their profligacy, major bank heads may now redecorate their offices more modestly “with Ikea desks and chairs with at least one wonky leg. Architects will be brought in to design a leak in the ceiling and a damp patch will be created in the corner… Accountants are working out just how much it will cost to give the titans’ offices the right look. Some say the touch-of-neglect look can be achieved for as little as $1.3m.”)