Tokyo - The Times reports that Japan's Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, described as the country's 'most austere' banking business, is telling its staff to pack up almost two hours early each day this week in order to go home and have some 'family time'.
The bank is apparently taking part in a national initiative in Japan to encourage people to do their bit for their country and go home and multiply. Concerned at the falling birthrate, the Japanese government was hoping that several companies would take part in this scheme, but participation has apparently been disappointing. Mitsubishi UFJ, however, sent an e-mail to staff encouraging them to leave at 5.10pm each evening this week, instead of the customary 7pm.
One banker told Here Is The City: 'Telling your staff to knock off early to basically, er, knock off, has got to take the biscuit. If it were Goldman, though, you'd probably be told to bring your partner onto the trading floor, do the business, and then get on with your work!'.
Another banker joked: 'The French and Italians, of course, would take the whole week off, while the Brits, who live in a country that is in danger of soon being overcrowded, would be made to work even longer hours to wear them out!'.
In the meantime, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack has said that he welcomes the increased attention his firm is receiving from the Federal Reserve now that Morgan Stanley is regulated as a bank holding company. Mack spoke at a panel discussion held in New York Wednesday, and said: 'They (the Fed) test our models. They question everything we do. I've never been regulated like that before. It's a different environment. Someone said to me, 'What do you think of it ?' I love it!'.
And The Daily Telegraph reports that French bank Societe Generale has issued a 'Worst-case debt scenario' report for clients, telling them to prepare for a possible 'global economic collapse', as government rescue packages have transferred debt from the private onto the public sector. The report, however, is said to be an exploration of the dangers, and not (at this stage) a forecast.
Finally, The Wall Street Journal reports that hedge fund legend John Paulson is putting $250m into an new fund he is running which will invest in gold, while Bloomberg reports that lawyers are saying that the likes of Barclays and BNP Paribas could have avoided the problems they now seemingly have with hedge fund K1 if they had heeded the 'red flags'. The firm's website, for instance, is said to have shown no main office, management, or staff, and K1 also relocated to the British Virgin Islands after a spat with German regulators.