HAVING had a tough time of it during the recession, the flood of money now pouring into charity coffers from the world’s chastened banks continues apace.
Hot on the heels of Goldman Sachs donating a large part of its 2009 compensation pool to good causes comes the news that charities are now also raking it in from the failure of Lehman Brothers – the primary trigger for all the recessionary pain in the first place.
Lehman’s attorneys in New York, Weil Gotshal & Manges, last week filed a report on the bank’s asset disposals, which revealed that a gaggle of branded bags, clothing and other paraphernalia have been “abandoned” to the Salvation Army, the American National Red Cross and the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty.
Among the goodies were 383 backpacks, 4,449 duffel bags, 1,500 coasters, 10,150 stress balls, 103 teddies and 20 “Lehman baby onesies” (whatever they may be). Apparently, the enormous haul had been costing the bank’s creditors $4,000 (£2,554) a month in storage rental costs, after the law firm was unable to shift the loot.
“The debtors had originally hoped to monetise these assets through sales to the public,” sighs the report. “These efforts, however, were largely unsuccessful.”
Ebay customers, who did a roaring trade in such items just after the collapse, obviously pipped them to the post.
Yet more playful banter arrives on email from a reader over how best to refer to the “problem children” of the eurozone.
We’ve already had the acronyms “PIGS” or “PIIGS” and “GIPSIs” to describe Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain and (sometimes) Italy. And the latest development is an idea for how to term countries considered among the highest sovereign risk nations – the Ukraine, Portugal, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania and Spain – which our witty reader terms the “UPHILLS”.
“It certainly describes the struggle you face trying to make money in any of them,” he quips.
Here’s a name to watch: Sara Lilly, who quit her job as an M&A banker at Royal Bank of Scotland at the beginning of the year to become a singer.
Lilly – whose music can be heard on www.myspace.com/saralillyuk – has an album, Butterfly, due for release in March, and says she’s living the dream.
“I’ve always wanted to be a musician so, with non-existent bonuses and very long hours in my previous job, I decided it was about time to follow my dream,” she tells me.
Apparently, she’s on the cusp of signing a US record deal, so watch this space.
Regular readers will recall the name of Nasser Azam, the former Merrill Lynch banker-turned-artist who is famous for experimenting with bizarre environments in which to create art.
After an experiment in zero gravity in 2008, Azam’s latest venture is to travel to Antarctica, where he will be painting next week (using, among other equipment, special paints designed not to freeze in temperatures of around minus 20°C.
“The concept is to explore creative limits outside of man’s comfort zone,” Azam, a master of understatement, tells me. “It’s taken a few years to organise this one – next up I’m aiming to paint on the moon…”