The Great Debate UK

from Breakingviews:

Wall Street may get temporary stay of execution

Wall Street is once again aflutter with talk of impending job cuts. But jittery traders may have a few months more grace before the knives come out. With trading revenue falling, the pressure is growing for investment banks to lay off staff. But executives are still debating whether the current slump is a blip. Nobody wants to slash ranks right before a turnaround. The summer could be safer than many think.

It has happened before. Morgan Stanley scaled back its fixed-income operations after the 2008 crisis, leaving an already-damaged franchise unprepared for the bailout-fueled market recovery the following year. The firm has since hired 400 or so people in interest rates and other more liquid markets, but has not yet made much progress toward its goal of increasing revenue by around a third to 8 percent of the top 10 players' share.

Merrill Lynch also hit the panic button in 2008, perhaps more understandably given the tens of billions of dollars of losses its structured credit desks generated. But Tom Montag, who had just been hired from Goldman Sachs to run trading, extended the cull to the equities desks, too. The firm ended up trying to rehire scads of them months later, with varying success.

That was not the first time Merrill pulled the trigger too early on a cull. A decade ago then chief-executive-in-waiting Stan O'Neal cut thousands of staff soon after the Sept. 11 attacks. At the time the Thundering Herd was still trying to recover from its previous mass firing after the Russia and LTCM crisis in 1998.

Targeting ‘champion’ businesses can assuage unemployment fears

Charlotte Hogg– Charlotte Hogg is Managing Director of Experian UK & Ireland. The opinions expressed are her own.

Recent news that UK unemployment has risen above 2.5 million has refocused attention on the anticipated reduction in public sector employment levels. The Office of Budget Responsibility now expects 330,000 public sector job losses over the next four years, far fewer than it forecast in June, but with the unemployment rate already running at 7.9 percent there are those who doubt the private sector’s ability to fill the employment void.

from Reuters Investigates:

An economic giant’s Achilles heel

A year ago, Nick Carey went on a road trip around America for a project called "Route to Recovery" that took him to places hit hardest by the recession. Nick went to Saginaw, Michigan, this time for a follow-up special report on the manufacturing sector and structural unemployment: "Is America the sick man of the globe?"

One of the characters he met was Olen Ham, a retired GM worker and UAW member who is among the last of those who took part in the historic "Sitdown Strike" in 1936 that he says helped create America's middle class. You can hear from Olen in this video:

from Reuters Investigates:

China’s rebalancing act puts consumer to the fore

consumerWal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, now has 189 stories in China, according to its website. Soon it will have many more.  The U.S. chain has announced plans to open a series of "compact hypermarkets", using a bare-bones model developed in Latin America, the Financial Times said.

Wal-Mart stores are a bit different than the one's you might find in, say, Little Rock Arkansas. They sell live toads and turtles for one thing, The Economist reported. But they also sell the appliances, gadgets, and housewares that Wal-Mart stores merchandise everywhere.

As the axe falls, spare a thought for the private sector too

BRITAIN-SPENDING/Most of the media and commentator attention today will rightly be on the public sector. When the Chancellor announces the cuts we all expect, the axe is going to fall on public services and the only real question is where and how hard it falls.

But spare a thought for the private sector too. These cuts will have an enormous effect on private companies that work for the government, and those companies employ many thousands of people too.

Vauxhall future is headache for Mandelson


jb2- John Bowker is Reuters’ UK transport and defence correspondent. The opinions expressed are his own -

Lord Mandelson was in buoyant mood on Thursday night.

The future ownership of British car-maker Vauxhall had finally been decided. U.S. giant General Motors agreed to sell its European unit — which includes Vauxhall — to Canadian car parts maker Magna and its Russian backers. According to Mandelson, this was good news for the Vauxhall’s 5,000 British workers as it removed the uncertainty over their futures. Everyone can get back to work making cars and live happily ever after.

from The Great Debate:

Are women better off marrying for money?

Daniela Drake-- Daniela Drake, M.D., attended Wellesley College and received an MBA from Stanford University. She, along with Elizabeth Ford, authored the book "Smart Girls Marry Money." A former McKinsey consultant, she is now a full-time primary care physician. Drake married (for love) and has reaped the consequences. The views expressed are her own. --

I had to pause when I came across a blog out of South Africa that read, “I think a way forward, or backwards some of you might say, is to encourage our smart, savvy and capable daughters to marry for money.” Since I co-authored a book with a similar premise, this sassy assertion definitely grabbed my attention.

from UK News:

Would you take a pay cut?

A small but growing number of companies are considering asking their workers to take a pay cut as a means of cutting costs without having to fire anyone.

In the latest example, three unions representing steelworkers at Corus have offered to take a 10 percent cut across the company's entire UK workforce of 25,000 for six months in an attempt to save one of the last remaining steel factories in Britain -- the plant at Llanwern in Newport, South Wales.