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Are Fears Of Layoffs On Wall Street Hurting Productivity?

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Even as Wall Street's storied investment houses struggle to get back on their feet, cost-cutting and layoffs may be hurting their ability to recover quickly from financial turmoil. Many of the best and the brightest have already seen the writing on the wall and lit out for brighter territory, while those left behind may be so demoralized they are underperforming while awaiting another round of expected layoffs.
In a story in the City section of the Times on Sunday (you might have missed it because that section doesn't get delivered to the Hamptons, where you have to read the Long Island news instead), former UBS mortgage analyst Andrew Slutsky explains the problem. "People were like, 'Why bother working if I know I'm getting laid off?'" Slutzky says. "You remember senior week of high school? You don't really do anything. You just kind of hang out. We'd reminisce about the boom days."
Reminiscing is not a trading strategy, and Andrew is not the first person from whom we've heard this description. If Wall Street's boom times are dominated by men acting on "animal spirits," these days (to paraphrase Bruce Springsteen), many Wall Streeters have ended up like a dog that's been beat too much.
Things are so bad that many aren't sure whether it's worse to keep a job or lose one. "The funny thing about getting laid off, having worked in this doom-and-gloom environment for the past couple of years, is that you don't know who the winners and the losers are," Andrew says.
(As an aside: Thanks for shout-out, man. Drop us a line if you want to write more about your life after the layoff.)
Wall Street Blues [New York Times]