Wells Fargo & Co. plans to entirely eliminate in-house economics research functions as part of its merger with First Interstate Bancorp.

Each bank's chief economist - Wells' Joseph Wahed and First Interstate's Lynn Reaser - will be fired when the deal is consummated on April 1.

Wells Fargo confirmed the decision to cut the economics departments, which was first reported in the Los Angeles Times. The Bank said only Wells' senior economist, Gary Schlossberg, would remain with the company, and that he will join the bank's investment management group.

About 20 people will be displaced when the two departments are jettisoned. In all, up to 10,000 jobs at the banks could be purged in the merger.

Wells Fargo has increased its use of outside sources for economic data, including research produced by Stanford University and the University of California at Los Angeles.

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