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by Derek Loosvelt | August 15, 2008

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On the heels of a $9.7 billion write-down during the second quarter 2008, Merrill Lynch instituted a hiring freeze for the rest of the year, saying it’s focusing “on returning the firm to profitability” and thus attempting to “manage expenses prudently.”

The freeze excluded financial advisors (brokers) but included consultants and temporary employees, who can not be hired to work full time. An internal Merrill memo attempted to underplay the announcement, noting that “the majority of the firm’s hiring occurs during the first and second quarters of the year with the third and fourth quarters progressively tapering off.”

In the first half of 2008, Merrill cut over 4,200 positions, which the firm expects to result in $900 million in annual savings.

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