Spare a thought for the 48 people who joined Lehman Brothers last summer (39 of them fresh graduates), who were paid $49,400 in signing-on bonuses and who are now being asked to return them.
The Daily Telegraph reports that the sign-ons, which appear to have been structured as 'loans' for tax reasons, were provided to the young Lehman employees just weeks before the firm went bankrupt, and the trustee now wants the money back. Some of the employees concerned are thought to have found it difficult to find alternative employment since Lehman's demise. The trustee has said that although it has no choice but to seek the return of the funds, it will look sympathetically at cases of 'individual hardship'.
The newspaper also reports that the number of claims made against Lehman Brothers may possibly end up topping $1 trillion. So far the firm has received over 64,000 claims.
In the meantime, The Wall Street Journal reports that some of Goldman's largest shareholders are said to have urged the firm to reduce the size of its bonus pool, and pay a bigger dividend this year-end instead.
And MarketWatch reports that US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has become a 'whipping boy for everything that is wrong with the US economy'. Typical is the statement made to Geithner by Representative Kevin Brady last week, when Geithner was testifying before the Joint Economic Committee. Brady said: 'Conservatives agree that, as a point person, you failed. Liberals are growing in that consensus as well. The public has lost all confidence in your ability to do the job, and it's reflecting on your president.....Will you step down from your job ?'.
Reuters reports that US House speaker Nancy Pelosi has said that any tax imposed on financial transactions (to raise funds as insurance against further financial crises), would have to be a global initiative, otherwise jobs and business would simply move overseas.
The New York Post reports that the future of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doesn't look as assured as it once did. Nominated for a further four-year term by President Obama, Bernanke might not be reconfirmed by the Senate quite as easily as expected. Changing his tune from just a few weeks ago, Senator Chris Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, has intimated that Bernanke's confirmation this time around isn't guaranteed. 'We'll see how the members react', Dodd said.
Finally, Bloomberg reports that the Financial Services Bill which was laid before the UK Parliament last week contains a provision for new powers for UK regulator The Financial Services Authority to suspend 'abusive' short selling of stocks.