Not everyone UBS is hiring was previously out of the market, but a significant proportion of them are.
By our estimates, it's appointed no fewer than nine people from the garden/golf club/beach/ sofa since November, including Rob Joliffe (ex-RBS), Salvatore di Stasi (ex-Goldman), Neal Shear and Roberto Hoornweg (ex-Morgan Stanley), and a five person distressed debt team (formerly of Credit Suisse).
UBS would probably argue that it's simply making the most of the talented people who left the market, voluntarily or otherwise, during 2008. Equally, it could argue that it's been cheaper to bring in people who were out of the market than to buy out someone still in employment.
Nevertheless, the influx does raise eyebrows about UBS's ability to attract people from rival firms. Yesterday, the Swiss justice minister issued a warning that UBS could "fail" unless the tax row with the US is resolved, which is hardly a vote of confidence in the bank's future.
Anyone (unemployed or otherwise) contemplating joining UBS will be pleased to hear, however, that failure is highly unlikely. "I really can't see how it would come to that," says Simon Maughan, a European banks analyst at MF Global. "If UBS had to get out of the US, it's far more likely they'd sell up quietly and go home - they've got plenty of assets there that they could dispose of."
UBS reports its fourth quarter earnings next week. Last week, Oswald Gruebel said he won't be getting a bonus
this year, but that other people will, otherwise the good ones will leave. If that were the case, UBS could be obliged to find even more non-working bankers to plug its gaps.