Banking Is Shrinking: Layoffs at CommerzBank, HypoVereinsBank, Lloyds, and Barclays

The entrance of a Commerzbank is seen on November 23, 2012 in Cologne, western Germany.

Photo by PATRIK STOLLARZ/AFP/Getty Images

Germany’s CommerzBank is looking to eliminate between 4,000 and 6,000 jobs according to today’s reports. A German rival, HypoVereinsBank, also recently announced plans to cut 600 jobs. And that comes on the heels of announcements earlier this week that Lloyds Banking Group and Barclays will be seeking layoffs. And that’s just the news from this month.

This is, obviously, very sad for the people losing their jobs. The financial sector isn’t all moustache-twirling fatcat CEOs. Lots of people work at these banks in lots of different kinds of jobs and nobody likes to see anyone lose theirs. But at the same time, these waves of layoffs—coming atop previous waves in previous years in different countries including the United States—serve to emphasize that to a perhaps larger degree than is generally recognized, the financial sector really is shrinking. The windfall gains of the aughts are over, regulations are tighter everywhere than they were five years ago, customers are more skeptical everywhere, major bank stocks have underperformed broad indexes, and employment in the sector is shrinking.