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Lloyds Receives Bailout, Throws Party

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British bank takes PR cues from AIG.

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You've got to admire British understatement, especially in view of the current economic crunch.

Bullheadedness is a fine Anglo-Saxon trait - but in the current climate, it looks more like moral myopia, or at least public relations incompetence, when banks spend heavily on Christmas parties after receiving a government bailout.

Lloyds TSB (LYG) plans to spend an estimated £2.5 million, or about $3.7 million, on Christmas parties for its staff after pocketing a hefty £5.5 billion government handout.

Lloyds calls the party expenditure "modest" and says its 67,000 staffers deserve a festive reward after turning the wheels all year in difficult circumstances.

The London Daily Express notes that spending heavily on Christmas parties after receiving a government bailout has "sparked outrage."

Vince Cable, a spokesman for England's Liberal Democrat party, said: "The banks are dependant on taxpayers' money but they appear to want to continue to live the lifestyle of the glory days when any sense of financial responsibility was disregarded."

"I think some restraint is in order," Mark Wallace, campaign director for the TaxPayers Alliance, told the newspaper.

This situation doesn't call for restraint - it demands cuss words and a 2-by-4 over the head (though a cricket bat will do in a pinch.)

For us colonials, the British experience with abject clunk-headedness proves we're not alone in breeding clueless executives.

AIG (AIG) is perhaps the best known example of -- stiff upper lip now -- what might charitably be called unwise spending after receiving a federal bailout.

AIG officials spent $440,000 on a retreat at the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort in Southern California after pocketing a taxpayer-backed bailout. Four AIG top dogs followed up by traveling to England to go partridge hunting. The cost: A mere $87,000. One aspiring Einstein told a reporter: "The recession will go on until about 2011, but the shooting was great today and we are all relaxing fine."

Uncle Sam handed AIG an $85 billion loan in September to help it avoid bankruptcy. In October, the Fed extended $38 billion more in credit to keep the company from burning through the loan too quickly.

Today's contest is simple: Cook up a British phrase, or British-sounding phrase, to express your profound disappointment with the way Lloyds TSB and AIG have abused the public trust. Perhaps:

Bugger off, sod. . . ?

Which translates into American as, well, never mind.

For more on the beauty of bailout, check out Hoofy and Boo's always astute report.

No positions in stocks mentioned.
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