Here's the latest missive from our 'Highly Placed Professional'.
'Although I don't want to come over all gloomy this Christmas, there's clearly not too much good cheer around.
Many of my colleagues in the markets are telling me they've hardly written a ticket since September. This is clearly down to the partial closure of the wholesale money markets, the banking crisis, and the huge losses that have resulted in banks becoming a whole lot more risk averse. And this all leads to a lot of traders and sales folk sitting around with very little to do, and indeed not that much to talk about apart from worrying whether the job axe is likely to fall any time soon.. (I mean how many times can you call a client to say 'We're doomed' ?!).
Plenty of banks have, of course, let people go - Mizuho, Bear, Citi, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse, UBS, and Deutsche for starters. Market professionals are being laid-off in dribs and drabs, a trend I expect will continue, as most analysts and market commentators are now gloomy right into the third quarter of 2008. So if, for over a year, the markets are likely to be risk averse and thinly traded, how will banks respond ? Cost cutting, of course - 'from front to back' as Citi's new CEO recently put it. And that means looking at failing and out-of-fashion businesses, and getting out the meat cleaver. It might make the analysts happy, but, for old market dinosaurs, the future's looking somewhat extinct'.
'When the markets are good, they are very very good. But when they are bad, they are awful. Comes with the territory. And, in the end, we all become 'dinosaurs'.