As the time of 'goodwill to all men' fast approaches, a number of staff who work in the financial markets are hoping that Santa doesn't rock up with a P45 or a pink slip.
With some staff genuinely in fear for their futures at firms like Commerzbank, CSFB and Deutsche Bank, a number of other investment banks are looking carefully at short-term revenue projections and existing headcount and are doing the math.
There are now worries all round that even firms not involved in a full-blown strategic review or restructuring will have to start to selectively cull if revenues don't quickly show signs of picking up.
And the prospects for significant job growth next year in the City and Wall Street have also taken a hit. The much-respected Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) has now cut back its earlier projections for job growth in the City. CEBR now says that City and related jobs will rise by around 4,000 this year and that a modest 2,000 will be added to the payrolls in 2005 and 2006.
The think-tank had previously said that 8,000 more jobs would be created this year and that by 2008 staffing levels would be around 20,000 higher than they were at the peak of the dot.com boom. You can forget about all that now. Concerns over terrorism and high oil prices appear to have knocked the projections down to earth with a bump. Job growth on Wall Street in 2005 and beyond is also likely to be significantly down on most earlier forecasts.
2004 bonuses will also grow at a smaller rate than last year. The rank-and-file are now thought likely to pick up bonus cheques of just 10% more than last year. Frank Glassner, CEO of consultants Compensation Design Group, summed it up nicely when he said that 'if you performed well (meaning bringing home the bacon), you will be well compensated, but if you didn't, you will clearly be taking home a lump of coal'.