Trading problems are partly seasonal, but structural issues are at stake too, as one of Switzerland’s big banks is finding

JUST weeks after a dire prediction by bank analyst Meredith Whitney that 80,000 jobs are set to go on Wall Street within two years, Credit Suisse has followed the US giants in demonstrating just how hard the investment banking climate really is.

Third quarter earnings have so far been characterised by solid retail and private banking and asset management performances, coupled with a hammer blow to investment banking. Within those divisions, sales and trading are the problem. Client flows have dwindled as higher confidence levels failed to translate into market action in an increasingly risk-averse world.

The good news is that fixed income has tended to hold up pretty well, and the equities decline is at least partly seasonal.

But there’s a wider structural issue at stake, with ever-increasing competition for the available commission coupled with growing concern over a decline in the appetite for securitisation – witness, as an example, the US housing foreclosure ruckus affecting demand for residential mortgage-backed securities. It’s looking like a tough old world out there indeed.