JP Morgan job losses fuel Wall Street gloom

The bank's net income fell by 51 per cent in the fourth quarter `What can you see happening that is going to create a better environment?'

Wall Street's foundations were shaken again yesterday with news that JP Morgan is set to become the latest of a string of New York-based banks to begin shedding staff in an effort to cope with a year-long securities slump.

Already this week, Paine Webber had revealed that it was preparing to shed 5 per cent of its workforce, while Lehman Brothers was hit on Tuesday by a downgrading of its credit rating by the investor services firm Moody's. There was speculation that Moody's might act similarly against Salomon Brothers.

Rumours began to surface some weeks ago that JP Morgan had run into trouble in Mexico, following the devaluation of the peso, and in its derivatives trading division. Yesterday, the bank said it would be taking a $55m charge in the first quarter, largely to cover the costs of staff lay-offs.

While the bank has not confirmed the extent of the job losses, company sources were quoted yesterday as suggesting that 5 per cent of the worldwide workforce of 17,000 could be affected. That would mean 850 positions lost, including traders and investment bankers.

JP Morgan's first-quarter results are not due out until mid-April, but analysts are expecting poor figures reflecting the firm's difficulties. The bank's net income fell by 51 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.

A spokeswoman for Salomon Brothers, itself hit by a $399m loss in 1994, declined to comment on the suggestion that Moody's was considering downgrading its current high rating. Moody's put Salomon's rating on review last month. It has similarly put Paine Webber's debt rating on review.

A downgrade in their credit rating is painful for investment banks because it increases the costs of short-term borrowings and reduces the confidence of clients, which is vital to a bank's survival.

It is estimated that the downgrading of Lehman's debt will cost it $100m in increased borrowing charges and an additional $100m in lost revenues.

Perrin Long, a brokerage analyst for Brown Brothers Harriman, was among those suggesting that Salomon may be next on Moody's list for downgrading.

"I think there is a good possibility", he said. "I think there is a question whether Salomon have a good risk management system in place and whether they are going to adhere to it."

Mr Long said there was a danger for all the banks that as profits dwindled they would be tempted to take greater risks to try to revive revenue flows.

Nor does he expect prospects for Wall Street to improve in the near term. "What can you see happening in the next six to 12 months that is going to create a better environment for the industry? It is hard to see much."

Meanwhile, Manhattan is awash with tales of strife at Smith Barney, which itself has faced disappointment in its efforts to become a world investment- banking leader.

The firm is reportedly riven by jealousies over the high compensation being awarded to executives drafted into the firm two years ago from Morgan Stanley - with Robert Greenhill at their head - compared with the lower figures being awarded to original Smith Barney staff members.

While members of the two camps are said to be avoiding even talking to each other, a company spokesman insisted that the disputes had been resolved. "The events that are at the root of so much speculation have been settled and solved and are behind us," he said.

Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trainee / Experienced Recruitment Consultants

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Soho

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...

Trainee Recruitment Consultants - Banking & Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Quantitative Risk Manager

Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments