The cost of hiring investment banking talent is unlikely to fall even though a rash of mergers this year means many Wall Streeters are looking for work or will be soon.

The combination of Salomon Brothers and Smith Barney, the proposed merger between Swiss Bank Corp. and Union Bank of Switzerland, and the retreat from investment banking by two major British institutions, Barclays PLC and National Westminster Bank PLC, means scores of investment bankers, traders, and analysts are available.

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