Living dangerously: Diary of an ABS professional, Week 1

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He works in the ABS department of a big bank. And in the first of a weekly series, he says the omens aren't looking good.

It's now been in the financial press for more than a month that the bank for which I have the pleasure of working is going to make job cuts.

Four weeks ago, one person from senior management ventured down to the pub where my team was having drinks. As he ordered his beverage and sat down, I asked him if he had read the article in the FT. "The one about Citi's SIVs?" he asked, "yes." "No," I replied, "The one about the bank making a significant number of people in structured credit redundant." At this point he coughed abruptly, stood up and left the pub before his drink had even been served.

So far this is the only internal management communication I have had regarding the redundancies to come. His embarrassment and swift exit from the pub spoke volumes.

Since I joined three and a half years ago, newspapers have not only always been ahead of any management communication from the bank, but have also proved more reliable. Being in structured finance, I feel as though I'm pretty close to the eye of the storm. Although, to be fair, it could be worse - I could have joined the CDO desk. I am glad I didn't, as they now look like dead men walking. I don't know whether I have to feel sorry for them or hold them responsible for the collapse of the market, together with the greedy retards who granted 100% LTV mortgages to 80-year-old Americans with crap credit histories.

This isn't to say my own particular future is looking great. For the last three months my job has consisted mainly of reading the paper in the morning and Bloomberg market updates in the afternoon.

It would be an understatement to say that the atmosphere in the office is ultra gloomy.

The last closing celebration was six months ago. Since then there hasn't been a single lavish dinner or trip to a strip joint. I can feel withdrawal symptoms. The only people who can be caught smiling in the office are those who joined this year on guaranteed bonuses. They were keen to mingle at the beginning but now they just tend to spend time amongst themselves and try to avoid us and, to be fair, I do not really want to spend time with them.

We will soon be playing a macabre game of musical chairs in which when the music starts we (who do not have guarantees) will be the only ones made to stand up.

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