Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Layoff League Tables

"This hasn’t been a good second half of the year for investment banks. Rocked by the summer’s troubles in the credit market — the subprime mortgage meltdown, the drought of buyers for leveraged loans — firms across Wall Street and around the world felt the pain, which has become apparent through billions of dollars in writedowns.
And with that have come large numbers of layoffs. To help sort through the mess, DealBook has compiled a sort of reverse league table, where being at the top is not something to boast about.
From Bear Stearns to Barclays, most of the major banks have resorted to job cuts in some form since the summer. More will probably follow. After his company announced a 93 percent drop in profits at its investment bank last week, Bank of America’s chief executive, Kenneth Lewis, said on a conference call that he will probably take on major cost-cutting. “I’ve had all the fun I can stand in investment banking right now,” he said.
(On Monday, Bank of America said that its head of structured products was leaving. On Wednesday, the bank announced it would layoff 3,000 employees.)
As The New York Times reported Monday, 42,404 financial jobs have been cut at New York firms this year, according to the job-placement consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Most of that number doesn’t necessarily relate to the summer’s credit crunch; about half stems from a broad restructuring that Citigroup announced this spring. More recently, though, most of the cuts made by investment banks have been tied to losses in debt-related operations, such as structured credit and leveraged finance. Many of the investment banks’ job cuts have been outside New York, such as HSBC’s shuttering of its U.S. mortgage unit in Indiana.
The layoffs have climbed high up the totem pole: They include the firings of top executives at Merrill Lynch and UBS. With some banks having yet to report their third-quarter earnings, many fear that more pink slips are being drawn up.
Still, a few banks have managed to avoid hitting this list so far. Perhaps most notably, the firm that reported a 79 percent increase in profit comes to mind.
Some notes: The figures in the table below come from reported job losses since the summer, nearly all of which the banks have attributed to weakness in their debt-related operations. Also, thanks to some readers’ comments, we added Wachovia to the table Tuesday morning."

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