So you thought investment banks were decimating their workforces with all the ferocity of Vlad the Impaler during a psychotic interlude? So did we. So did everyone. But a confluence of recent events suggests this might not be as true as the quantity of ex-bankers hanging out on street corners suggests.
Event number one: Credit Suisse's Q2 results. When Credit Suisse announced its 2Q results last week, it also revealed - rather unexpectedly - that headcount numbers in its investment bank were up 1,200 on the previous year. Yes, it had cut 100 investment bankers between Q1 and Q2, but it's hardly up to impaling standards.
Event number two: Deutsche Bank's Q2 results. The German bank may have written down another €2.3bn and made a €311m loss in its securities unit, but that doesn't mean it's viciously extracting staff. Between Q1 and Q2 of this year, Deutsche removed a microscopic 25 people from its corporate and investment bank.
Event number three: Lazard's Q2 results. Revenues in its advisory business were up a massive 37% in the second quarter, and Bruce has indicated an intention to hire new people and open new offices. This is not to say Lazard hasn't been wielding the axe: it eliminated a truly shocking three managing directors from its advisory unit.
Event number four: Mack's mad moment. Morgan Stanley is investing $1bn in
extra staff. What more can we say?
Event number five: The new man at Caz. Naguib Kheraj has indicated an urge to lead Cazenove deeper into areas like commodities and rates. Evidently JPMorgan will provide some of the manpower here, but hiring can't be discounted.
Obviously, there is pain. Merrill Lynch, for example, cut 2,300 people between the first and second quarters of this year (but still had 1,900 people more than at the end of Q107). But the pain is not equally distributed. And if hiring is equated with pleasure, there are definitely pockets of it to be had. Vlad is unquestionably lurking, but so far he's proven relatively benign.