Noise Machine

I no longer work in finance, but I have a lot of friends who still do. Most of them aren’t that happy right now- they don’t feel very secure in their jobs. And I don’t blame them. But I don’t see a ton of them getting let go. The axe is perpetually hanging over their heads, but never drops.

I think a lot of the reason for insecurity is the obsession with labor issues in the financial press. Bonus season coverage is only fractionally less intense than coverage of the Oscars, as far as I can tell. Relatively minor layoffs end up getting amplified to an extent that I think is utterly ridiculous.

Last week RBS announced layoffs of 3,500 workers (out of about 19,000). That’s fine- everyone has known that RBS is in bad shape. I wanted to read about it (I have friends there) so I checked it on Google News.

To my shock, there were over 1,200 articles about it last week! that’s an article for every three people cut!

I guess that the papers have to work with whatever is in the news, but I still thought that was high. So I did a Google News search for layoffs over the past month to see how much coverage each set of layoffs got. The X axis is the number of layoffs, the Y is the number of articles

I labeled Morgan Stanley & RBS. Not only are they the most covered on a per-layoff basis, but they’re the most covered absolutely as well.

So cheer up, finance people. It’s (probably) not that you’re more likely to get fired: it’s that you’re more likely to hear about it. Many, many times.