Monday, September 10, 2007

The Ranks of the Comfortable Are Still Thinning

By ANDREW ROSS SORKIN, New York Times, Sunday, September 9, 2007:
BY now, all of Wall Street understands that the private-equity gravy train has jumped the tracks. But few seem to realize how ugly the pile-up could become.
With the buyout market in free fall, lots of attention has focused on a few obvious pressure points, like which investment banks will rack up big losses on the $330 billion in debt that they committed to pay for leveraged buyouts over the last year.
For the most part, though, Wall Street seems to be taking it all in stride. James Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, said last month that he was “comfortable.”
Comfortable? Let me offer a more dour view: wide swaths of Wall Street, and many of the industries that serve it, are in for some serious collateral damage. Not only has private equity been out of business for the last two months, but that activity is not likely to resume with any significance soon. And when it does, it will be at a fraction of its recent peak.
So what does that mean? For much of Wall Street, a severe case of withdrawal. Forget about cutting the size of bonuses: let’s start really thinking about the possibility of slashing jobs.
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