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Is Merrill's Hiring Freeze Just The Tip Of The Iceberg?

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That's the claim of a Merrill Lynch banker who has written to Here Is The City, a financial news and gossip site based in Britain.
"I wonder what the implications really are, and am concerned that the freeze itself is just a marker which firm executives are putting down to signal that there are much tougher times ahead," the banker writes.
The banker emphasizes that he has not "got it in for my firm" but speculates that the hiring phrase will last much longer than the anticipated 20 weeks. "[I]t will remain difficult to obtain additional headcount throughout 2009," he writes.
The entire letter, including the requisite Stan O'Neal bashing, is on Here Is The City. (Thanks to Hilary Lewis at the Business Sheet, who brought this story to our attention.)