Nasty couple of weeks in store (Updated)

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The next 14 days could be particularly black ones for investment banking redundancies.

"Next week will be very big for job cuts," says the European head of one international search boutique. "Banks are putting the finishing touches to their cost cutting programmes this week, and will announce redundancies starting Monday 14th April."

"European DCM fees have been squeezed," says Lee Thacker of search firm Silvermine Partners. "Cuts are going to come over the next two weeks, and in the two weeks in June when quarterly reviews take place."

Headhunters predict the biggest reductions at UBS and Citigroup - and Financial News reports that Citigroup is slashing its leveraged finance team from 27 to 14 people. However, they're unlikely to be the only banks reducing headcount.

JPMorgan, Deutsche Bank and Barclays Capital are thought to be overstaffed in fixed income. Morgan Stanley and Lehman are expected to announce another round of redundancies in the coming weeks. Merrill Lynch has already let people go and has signalled its intention to eliminate more investment banking jobs in May.

Not the 1990s

However bad things are at the moment, though, they've been far worse in the past.

Andrew Burrell, chief economist at Experian, is predicting that anything between 10,000 and 20,000 jobs will go in the City of London this year. However, he points out that this is nothing compared to the 1990s when 50,000 to 60,000 jobs were eliminated from what was then a much smaller financial services community.

"Right now we don't have the wider economic context of a UK-wide recession to create job cuts of that magnitude," says Burrell.

And if conditions do deteriorate further? There will, at least, be small mercies.

"In the early 1990s the trains were half empty - you could always get a seat," says one headhunter.

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