Don’t feel too sorry for the soon-to-be-laid-off employees at Bear Stearns: Right now they’re getting paid to do nothing. “I’d say 50 percent of my department comes in at some point on a given day, and the trading floor is empty,” says one of the thousands of doomed employees who’ll receive full pay until JPMorgan Chase takes over next month. The paychecks keep coming thanks to a convenient technicality: JPMorgan can’t fire employees it doesn’t yet employ. But it can notify them of the upcoming ax. “We’re informing people every day,” says JPMorgan spokesman Joe Evangelisti. Laid-off bankers will receive at least three weeks of severance for every year served, plus a bonus for sticking around till the sale closes. For now, they’re becoming spa swans and gym rats. “I take one call a week, maybe,” says the Bear employee. “Sometimes I have to, like, print something.”
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