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http://www.sina.com.cn 2006/06/05 15:55  新东方


  Investment banks cut with a vengeance

  THE 25,000 or so jobs cut by international investment banks so far this year have been presented as judicious pruning, though they were really more panick
y than that. Privately, the banks admit that, if business does not pick up soon, then the serious axe-wielding will have to start, on Wall Street and in the City of London. Some banks would have liked to act more aggressively before now, but were restrained by a desire not to be first with the bad news. This week's announcement of 3,500 fresh job losses at Citigroup, followed immediately by reports that J.P. Morgan Chase is about to slash its investment-banking operations, may mark the point at which the blood really starts to flow.

  As they decide whom to shed, executives face a tricky question. How quickly might they be able to hire workers in the event that business recovers faster than most people now dare hope? Merrill Lynch suffered badly after it fired workers, including technical staff, as financial markets stumbled in late 1998. When the markets rebounded soon after, not only were these workers loth to return, but employees at other firms would not join a firm that had shown itself to be a fickle employer.

  Today, worries about "doing a Merrill" are fading fast. Jobless investment bankers are legion, though few are willing to admit to being "unemployed". New York now has nearly as many "resting" bankers as actresses, though they do not yet have to wait at tables. Senior executives are being fired at a rate not seen since 1990, says Laura Lofaro of Sterling Resources, a firm of head-hunters. They are paid so much that the revenues they bring in for the firm fall short of their pay--even before other overheads are taken into account.

  Banks are also eagerly searching out ways to shed workers through increasing use of technology. Curiously, firms like Merrill Lynch may view electronic brokerage with greater enthusiasm now than at the height of the online investing fad. Goldman Sachs has sought efficiencies by centralising its human-resources activities, cutting staff. It came as a shock to learn that Goldman Sachs had 300 human-resource professionals to fire. But when even personnel people are being canned, times really are hard.

  The task facing investment banks is complicated by the consequences of their behaviour during the stockmarket boom of blessed memory. For instance, many bankers, notably in equity underwriting and analysis, were recruited on lucrative contracts with several years of guaranteed salary and bonus. Attempts to negotiate release from these guarantees are taking place--notably at CSFB, which handed out more of these contracts than most.

  No investment-banking activity has been more idle this year than underwriting initial public offerings (IPOs). The bursting of the Internet bubble has scared off punters and, for another year at least, there are unlikely to be many IPO candidates with a record of profitability (now regarded as essential). Yet job losses in this business have been remarkably low. Could this have anything to do with the way regulators and law firms are courting disaffected and former employees who might be willing to dish the dirt on their bank's abuses of the IPO process?

  Economist; 8/18/2001, Vol. 360 Issue 8235, p55, 2p


  wield [wi:ld] vt. 挥舞(剑等);使用;支配, 行使,如:

  vengeance [5vendVEns] n. 复仇, 报仇; 报复

  inflict [take, wreak] vengeance (up) on sb. 对... 报仇[雪恨]

  with a vengeance [口]猛烈地, 厉害地; 彻底地; 过度地

  judicious [dVu:5dIFEs] adj. 明智的;有判断力的;有见识的

  pruning [5pru:nIN] n. 修枝, 剪枝, 修剪

  tricky [5trIkI] adj. 难处理的;棘手的;微妙的;奸诈的;狡猾的

  loth [lRW] (=loath) adj.憎恶的, 勉强的;不愿意的

  fickle [5fIk(E)l] adj.(在感情等方面)变幻无常的, 浮躁的, 薄情的

  legion [5li:dV(E)n] adj. 大批的,大量的,

  fad n. 流行一时的狂热,时尚,风气

  can vt. (canned; canning) [美]把...装成罐头;[俚]把...灌制唱片, 把...录音;[美俚]解雇, 辞退, 抛弃, 开除(学生), 监禁, 停止, 停用

  lucrative [5lu:krEtiv, lju:-] adj. 有利的, 赚钱的, 合算的, 待遇好的

  underwriting initial public offerings (IPOs)首次公开发行


  punter n. 顾客;嫖客

  court vt. 求爱,献殷勤;谋求;获得;招致;奉承,讨好;引诱,如:

  disaffected [dIsE5fektId] adj. (对政府)不忠的;不满的;愤愤不平的

  dish the dirt [美俚]散布流言蜚语




  今年,迄今为止,国际投资银行已裁减25,000多个工作岗位,此举被描述成“明智的修剪”, 尽管裁员的真实情况比这更可怕。银行私下承认, 如果银行业务不能很快好转, 那么,华尔街和伦敦市真正的裁员不得不开始。有些银行想采取比现在更大胆的行动, 但由于不想成为第一个带来坏消息的样板而有所克制。花旗集团本周宣布再裁减3,500 工作岗位后,马上又有这样的报道:J. P. 摩根•蔡斯投资银行即将大幅度削减它的投资银行业务。这可能就是银行真正开始换血的起点。

  由于他们要决定谁留谁走, 经理们将面临一个棘手的问题。万一业务恢复的速度比他们现在敢于设想的快,那么,他们多久才能雇到合适的员工?由于1998年后半年金融市场时好时坏,所以,美林证券在解雇了大批员工(包括技术人员)后吃尽了苦头。过了不久,当金融市场开始好转后, 不仅是这些员工不愿意回去, 就连其他公司的雇员也不愿加盟那些视员工为草芥的势利雇主。

  今天, 人们对 “成为下一个美林”的担心正快速减退。失业投资银行家多如牛毛,举不胜举, 虽然他们中几乎无人愿意承认自己“失业”。纽约目前的“休眠”银行家几乎跟女演员一样多,虽然他们大可不必翘首等待。斯特林人力资源公司——一家猎头公司——的劳拉罗法洛说,自1990以来,高级经理主管人员正以前所未有的速度被炒鱿鱼。他们的薪水太高,以至于他们为公司所创的收入还不及他们的工资水平——即使不考虑其它日常开支亦是如此。

  银行正急切地寻找通过增加技术的使用来裁减工人的途径。奇怪的是, 像美林集团这样的公司目前可能以比在线投资时尚盛行的巅峰时期更大的热情来看待电子中介业。戈德曼•萨克斯公司试图通过对人力资源的工作进行集中管理和裁员的方法来提高员工的工作效率。当得知戈德曼•萨克斯公司解雇了300 个专业人员时,人们感到非常震惊。但当管人事的人也被解雇时,我们确实感受到世态之艰难。

  投资银行所面临的伤脑筋的事由于人们有幸记得的股市暴涨时期的投机行为所造成的后果而变得更加复杂化。比如, 多家投资银行曾经通过优厚的待遇——好几年有保障的薪金和奖金——的合同,招聘了许多在股权认购和股权分析方面享有极高声誉的银行家。目前,试图取消这些承诺的谈判正在进行——尤其是在瑞士信贷第一波士顿银行(CSFB), 它随意发出的类似合同比任何银行都多。

  今年,没有哪家投资银行的业务比认购首次公开发行的股票(IPOs)更为无效。国际互联网泡沫的破碎吓退了众多客户,至少将又有一年的时间, 不太可能会出现很多有良好收益记录的首次公开发行股票(目前这一点被认为是至关重要的)的候选公司。但这一行业中的下岗率极低。这与公司行为监督委员会委员和律师事务所的做法是否有关系?这些委员和律师事务所努力讨好那些愿意对原雇主银行滥用首次公开发行股票的过程散布流言蜚语的愤愤不平的前银行雇员。

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