Bank Of America is the latest financial institution to announce massive job cuts—yesterday they confirmed a plan to shed between 30-35,000 jobs over three years as part of a ‘general streamlining’ and efficiency plan. It’s cynical, though fair, to question how far the current economic climate lends itself to the streamlining culture. Cutting jobs is something corporations and larger businesses try to do as much as possible to balance their workforce efficiency, which in plain English means: running an operation on the smallest workforce possible. In ‘normal’ times, large-scale job-cutting is frowned upon as politically inexpedient (though it quietly goes on), and the cuts never seem to reach to the top levels of the boardroom, where shedding one staff member there might save twenty (or more) jobs elsewhere.
In total, financial companies have announced and already started cutting around 250,000 jobs (according to an estimate by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc.) It’s easy to believe that only the fact of a recession lies behind this massive streamlining operation, and the likelihood is that it won’t stop at a quarter of a million if the forecasts about how deep the global and local recession is likely to be prove to be accurate. It’s almost impossible to show that there is any other motivation, very difficult to prove that it is very useful for the corporate world to both have a great excuse for doing what it would love to do in times more normal, and to frighten governments, via sections of the electorate, into bulldozing even more money into the global banking system to act as a financial haemostat.
Indeed it is cynical and impossible to show, but hardly unthinkable.