When he left NYU, Lew received what he describes as “a one-time severance payment upon my departure.” He wasn’t fired, usually the occasion for severance pay. He simply left and got paid for the act of leaving. Hey, that’s Jack Lew — he gets paid when he stays, and he gets paid when he goes.
He went to Citigroup, which NYU had made its primary private lender for student loans in exchange for a cut of those loans. (Coincidences happen to everyone, including Jack Lew.) At Citi, Lew established beyond a doubt his expertise at getting paid. In 2008, as the bank nearly blew up and laid off one-seventh of its employees, Lew ran its disastrous Alternative Investments unit — and got paid $1.1 million.