Anyone actively participating in US equities will tell you that market volumes have been abysmal lately. Broker-dealers have been getting crushed, including the bulge bracket banks as market volumes continue to drop. When volume isn't there, brokers aren't making money and that puts a strain on any company with a capital markets business.
The year over year chart shows that volume in 3Q12 was down 41% YoY, partly attributable to a tough +12% comp in 3Q11. Nevertheless, this is the largest YoY decline in volume in the last three years. On a sequential basis, volume was down 17% in 3Q12.