13 September 2007

Riches to Rags In The City

In the last few posts I've been speaking about the now well known problems in the credit markets, and how this is starting to affect London property prices. Of course yje property perma-bulls refuse to concede that falls in prices are possible; real estate only ever goes up don't you know?

History and a few deft keystrokes in Excel disprove that, but for falls to become a reality, there must be vectors that exert downward forces. I've mentioned the vanishing bonuses, but how about unemployment? I'm not talking about factory workers and builders any more, I'm talking about suits.

Check out this blog from the BBC's Robert Peston LINK:

Scything the City

  • Robert Peston
  • 13 Sep 07, 07:45 AM

The humungous bonuses trousered by many investment bankers may seem a trifle de trop.

But it’s not a stress-free existence. They live in an eat-or-be-eaten world and are in work for as long as they are economically productive - and barely a second longer.

So brutal redundancies are now only days and weeks away, as it becomes commonly accepted that the turmoil in financial markets will depress certain lines of business for months if not years.

The boss of one investment bank tells me he expects a first wave of job cuts that will see individual banks reduce their headcounts between 5 and 15 per cent.

And he says he wouldn't be surprised if that was followed just a few months later by a second wave of similar or even greater magnitude.

First out the door will be many of the creators of the current crisis: the manufacturers and traders of assorted asset-backed securities that you can hardly give away right now; all those debt whiz-kids who engineered the poisonous collateralised debt and loan obligations; the banking servants of a hedge-fund world that’s shrinking fast and of a private-equity industry in cryogenic storage.

Should we weep for their plight? Some of you will scoff at the thought. It’s a big hello to schadenfreude.

Actually, there could be one or two benign consequences from the slaughter of the not-so-innocent, such as a deceleration in the rampant inflation of central London property (okay, I know this is not a universal good).

But don't think we'll get away scot-free.

The economy called Britain is built on financial services (though more by accident than design). Something over a third of our overall economic growth has been generated in recent times by the City and financial services.

Lean times in the City means slower growth, less wealth to spread around and a substantial dip in the Treasury's tithe.

When the bubble is pricked, no umbrella is big enough – we all become a bit damp.

There are still corpses to float to the surface in this whole credit crunched scenario IMO. Bearing in mind the gravity of what happened in July-August, things are just a bit too quiet to be real.


The ASX Gorilla said...

I plan to be in London in about another 3-4 years to feast on the wonderous rates that IT contract workers can earn. Hopefully we've seen a bottom and this has sorted itself out by then...I wouldn't mind another r/e boom to be in progress by then either as it could be lucrative to do a fixer-upper project while we're there.


Wayne said...

If they don't f### around too much trying to prop things up, it could be a good period. I certainly hope so.