Trader Shoots Himself On Trading Floor

Despair Statue

Reuters reports that Paulo Sergio, a 36-year-old trader working for the brokerage arm of Brazilian banking giant Itau, shot himself Monday in an apparent suicide bid in the open outcry pit of San Paulo's Commodities & Futures Exchange.

Trading was halted for around 15 minutes whilst Sergio was given first aid. He was then rushed to hospital, where he is said to remain in a critical condition with severe chest injuries. The sight of the gun is said to have caused panic on the trading floor, and there is now an investigation into how the weapon managed to get through the Exchange security metal detectors.

Brazil's financial markets are in turmoil, with stocks down some 50% since May's high. It is not known whether Sergio's suicide attempt was related to a financial loss.

Some two years ago, a Credit Suisse FX dealer shot and killed himself after he left a trading floor in Zurich. There was speculation at the time that he had just been told that he was being laid-off.

In the meantime, there's no let-up on the job loss, stress and bonus anxiety disease front:

Citigroup announced an additional 50,000 jobs will go in the coming months (that's in addition to the 23,000 already announced this year). The jobs will go as a result of lay-offs, unit sales and natural wastage. CEO Vikram Pandit now wants to reduce the firm's cost base by around 20%. Overall, headcount will come down from 375,000 some 12 months ago, to around 300,000. Investors were not, however, overwhelmed by Pandit's plan. Citigroup's stock price continued to fall Monday.

Credit Suisse's securities unit is said to have told many contractors that their services will not be required after 19th December.

Bloomberg reports that BlackRock is to tell its staff that jobs will be cut in the first cull since the firm was founded some 20 years ago. The firm said in a memo to staff: 'These are extraordinary times. Times like these require fiscal discipline; we expect it of the companies in which we invest, and we must expect it of ourselves'. Specific details of the job losses will not be revealed until early 2009.

Associated Press reports that Putnam Investments confirmed Monday that it is to cut 47 jobs, including 12 money managers, as it merges six funds into larger ones. Most of the cuts will come in the firm's Boston office. CEO Robert Reynolds said: 'This whole move is being made to get rid of complexity, simplify processes, and provide ownership and accountability'.

Finally, The Wall Street Journal reports that HSBC is to cut 450 jobs in Hong Kong. The layoffs will come across all customer groups. Executive Director Peter Wong told staff in a memo: 'Such decisions are always exceptionally difficult to make, and are a result of organizational changes in a number of areas, as well as the deteriorating economic conditions and our cautious outlook for 2009'.

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