Abigail Hofman: Armageddon has arrived
We are engulfed in a tornado of gloom. Wall Street titans and employees alike have seen their share options decimated, pension pots plummet and everyone feels insecure about job security. I’m hearing that investment banks need to cut 20% of their employees to accommodate lower profitability.
As I write, gold is flirting with $1,000 an ounce, the US dollar does a daily dance lower, the Federal Reserve is propping up a Bear Stearns – worth just $270 million according to JPMorgan Chase; OK make that $1.2 billion – and everyone I speak to is pessimistic.
This is a contrarian indicator, so I’m starting to feel a little perkier. But I don’t think any of us involved in finance will forget the first quarter of 2008 in much the same way as we haven’t forgotten August 1998 (when Russia defaulted and the hedge fund LTCM floundered).
How sad it is, therefore, that Ian Kerr, one of the great financial chroniclers of our age, died in March. Kerr wrote about investment bankers and investment banking for more than 20 years in various magazines. His columns could be caustic, but they were also amusing, insightful and widely read. It would often seem as if Ian was inside the institutions he was writing about. Bespectacled Kerr, always sartorially elegant, could sometimes be difficult. “I only come down to the City to see Anshu Jain,” he snapped at some hapless PR peon.