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by Derek Loosvelt | September 02, 2008


Last Thursday, as Americans began to pack their suitcases and cars, preparing for their vacations prior to the weekend known as Labor Day (the holiday originally created by the Central Labor Union of New York as "a day off for the working citizens"), one of the largest investment banks in the world, New York-based Lehman Brothers, said it would be cutting an additional 6 percent of its staff, signaling that the job losses on Wall Street were far from over. According Bloomberg, the recent wave of finance cuts have now surpassed 101,000, which means that yesterday, for many New Yorkers, Labor Day was no different than today: another day off.

Speaking of which, I took one of those last Friday: instead of spending the day in the office, I spent it in Queens, out in Flushing Meadows at the U.S. Open where, among the largest names in tennis, the largest names in banking are splattered all over the place. As you walk into Flushing Meadows Corona Park, looming behind giant heads of Roger Federer and Venus Williams is Citi Field, the nearly-finished new home (beginning in April 2009) of Major League Baseball’s New York Mets. The stadium is named after the giant, New York-headquartered Citigroup Inc., which has been shedding the "group" from its name and trying to rebrand itself simply as "Citi." The bank has a 20-year deal with the (first-place) Mets that includes having its (shortened) moniker on the stadium.

Once inside the grounds at Flushing Meadows, Citi's biggest competitor takes over. On every court, the word "J.P.Morgan" is emblazoned behind one baseline and the word "Chase" is emblazoned behind the other. So, as spectators turn their necks from side to side, with each alternating ground stroke, they see "J.P.Morgan" and then "Chase," "J.P.Morgan" and then "Chase." Aside from the names separated from each other on either side of the nets, the first thing that struck my eye was the new spelling, or perhaps new spacing is more accurate, of J.P.Morgan—now there's no space between J.P. and Morgan.

For the past few years, JPMorgan Chase & Co. (the parent company of J.P.Morgan and Chase) has been trying to separate the images of its two firms that combined years ago to create the behemoth bank that we know today; the split advertising at the Open seemed to be just the latest attempt to delineate its blue collar commercial banking unit from its white-bloused investment banking unit. As for the closing of the gap between J.P. and Morgan, you will have to ask a marketing expert about that, but if I were to wager a bet on the next incarnation of the name that keeps changing (first the periods were dropped, then they returned, and now the space was dropped), I'd place my money on the return of the space within a year. I bet many people will be confused by the lack of gap, assume there is a gap in there (albeit a small one that can't be seen by the naked eye), and the firm will grow so tired of having to correct the mistake that it will decide to slide back some emptiness in between the names.

Although most of America had the day off yesterday, it certainly wasn’t a laborless holiday for all (including some of the world’s best tennis players), and it’s likely that if yesterday wasn’t, today was the first day back to work for many who’ve been on a longer hiatus than three days.

Today, Bloomberg covers the recent hiring spree by several hedge funds—by the few that haven’t or aren’t going out of business, that is. Bloomberg notes that while hedge funds have been shutting down and/or losing money in record numbers, putting many hedge fund employees out of work, the best performing funds have been expanding and aggressively picking up investor talent from those funds that have been getting hammered, providing many hedge fund employees with new homes this fall.


Filed Under: Finance

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