It was all going so well. “A lot of senior people were already on holiday here,” says a rates strategist, speaking anonymously from a Swiss bank in London. “Now they’re being called back and it’s been complete chaos.”
He’s referring, of course, to the bottom falling out of the ruble and to the Russian central bank’s biggest interest rate rise since 1998. Suddenly, Christmas won’t be so peaceful after all. And bonus pools on emerging markets and rates desk may yet be slashed. “It was quiet, but this last week has ruined some people’s year,” the strategist says.
“The market was hoping for a quiet Christmas,” says the head of government bonds at one London-based asset manager, also speaking off the record. “This is not the ideal end to what’s been a long year.
“A lot of people have shut up shop already,” he adds. “This is part of the problem – there’s not much risk on and not much liquidity, so markets are more volatile than usual.”
In the circumstances, it may be risk managers rather than traders who have the most work to do. “It’s the risk teams who are really running around,” says a headhunter. “I spoke to a candidate this morning who’s leaving a big US bank. He said it all went crazy overnight - risk managers were called in for 72 hour shifts to look at counter-party emerging market exposures and cross-check risk lines Share on twitter. It’s a huge amount of work.”