TRANCHED: Life after CDOs, Week 9

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I have taken my foot off the gas. Those of you who are more aggressively job hunting would tut at my lax attitude of the last few weeks. A couple of days at Wimbledon, one day of cricket at the Oval, and several days spent lying in the park with my wife and baby daughter all point to a worrying slowing in pace.

I woke this morning to an ash grey sky and drizzle, and a sense of direction was suddenly thrust upon me. July is supposed to be the heart of summer, but the weather this morning did more to remind me of autumn. It hit me this morning that the distractions of the summer will soon be behind me and the grim reality of autumn and, worse still, winter will soon be around the corner. Not working in August is an almost glorious concept; being unemployed in November would be downright depressing.

Even working to a reasonable timetable, let's say I begin to interview in the next few weeks, by the time the process is complete and any human resources minefield is traversed we are looking at a month-plus. That takes me to almost the beginning of September. The timing would be ideal, I would have enjoyed a carefree summer and walk back into a job with a fair proportion of my redundancy pay in place.

The scenario above is optimistic. It describes a market more akin to July 2006 than July 2008. The fact that I have had one interview in the last month suggests that I should prepare for the long haul. One fact is blatantly obvious: if I want to avoid an autumn of discontent I am going to have to pull my finger out fast.

In this week of heavy rain, I am therefore redoubling my efforts. Headhunters who've been left unchased will be called; contacts will be gently chivvied; new lines of enquiry will be opened. I'm spooked by the idea of sitting of home when the nights draw in and the whole of London seems to immerse itself under the solid grey blanket of autumn.

The evaporation of structured credit jobs seems to suggest that the route back is via risk or the hybrid risk/finance role of valuations. The calls back I have received from headhunters suggest that this is one of the few areas where things are still active, especially on the commodities side of the business. Reality beckons and dreams of CDO structuring may be forced to hibernate over the winter.

Gordon Brown is quoted in this morning's papers as suggesting that the solution to rising food prices is to stop wasting food. A sensible message, but one that can't help but smack of desperation: gone seems to be the carefree squandering of the last 10 years, where we lived like kings on cheap imports from China, bumper bonuses and never-ending house price growth. Those days seem to be over for now, and it is a fool who doesn't change to meet the new realities. Holding out at home waiting for the dream job is not an option.

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