The Bear Stearns gang are just hangin’ out at 383 and collecting those pay checks because, until the JP Morgan takeover is finalized, they can’t be fired.

It was easy to fall into the trap of pitying all those unknowing Bear Stearns employees when their employer went belly-up in March. They had given years of loyal service to their company, and because of sub-prime mortgages and poor management decisions, they were all going to be living on the street.

It’s hard to picture them on the street corner wearing nothing but a barrel and suspenders when New York Magazine is printing quotes from guys like this:

“I’d say 50 percent of my department comes in at some point on a given day, and the trading floor is empty. I take one call a week, maybe,” says the Bear employee. “Sometimes I have to, like, print something.”

JP Morgan is notifying thousands of former Bear bankers a week that they will be receiving the ax shortly. However, until all the paperwork is signed next month, they are free to hang out and check their direct deposit balances.

On top of that, laid-off bankers will be receiving at least three weeks of severance for every year served, plus a bonus for sticking around till the sale closes.

The article also refers to the former Bears in hibernation as becoming “spa swans and gym rats.” I’m not sure if that refers to women and men respectively, or just a large collective group of metrosexual, roid-raging dudes.

Some people are not very happy about this, as noted by one commenter on the article, named Arcataberry:

“While these leeches are at the spa, I’m sweating my mortgage and the price of gas. Wall Street joins Washington at the top of the list of places Americans mistrust deeply. Gone is the cachet of brokers making sexy deals in high rises. They all look like rats to the rest of us.”

I disagree. There are still plenty of sexy deals going on in high rises, those just aren’t the ones getting reported in New York Magazine.

New York Mag: Bear Bankers Hibernate With Pay, May 11, 2008