Lunchtime Links: Another bank says things really are getting BETTER

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Wonderful news: another institution is proclaiming light at the end of the tunnel.

Coincidental with the announcement of its 4Q08 results today, Bloomberg reports that BNP Paribas said its securities division put in a "very good performance" in January. This follows similarly favourable noises from Deutsche Bank, Bank of America and Barclays Capital.

BNP CEO Baudouin Prot 'really hopes' the corporate and investment banking division will be profitable by the end of this quarter. Less promisingly, pay at the French bank seems to have taken a predictable hit, with Keefe Bruyette & Woods pointing out that fourth quarter expenses at the corporate and investment bank came in at €514m compared to €888m consensus expectations.

It's also worth noting that equity derivatives performed badly at French banks generally: BNP had €1.8bn of negative revenues in equities in Q4; CreditSights highlights €608m of equities negative revenues at SocGen over the same period, with exceptional changes in volatility and correlations taking their toll.

59% more new financial services jobs in January than December. (OnRec)

Goldman Sachs partners borrow to cover margin calls. (CNBC)

UBS admits helping tax evaders. (CNN)

Cameron castigated for bashing bankers. (FT)

Citigroup hires a head of European prime broking. (Financial News)

Mercer hires someone from Lehman. (Financial News)

Morgan Stanley hires a very senior Goldman energy banker. (FT)

Longtime M&A banker joins unheard of boutique. (DealBook)

$45m to retrain unemployed bankers in the US. (CNN)

Go and start your own company. (Reuters)

Playboy open to sale or possible strategic changes. (DealBook)

Meredith Whitney does her own thang. (The Times)

British commuters pay the twice the price of European rail fares. (The Times)

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