Things are getting so tough for European banks that they're cutting back on the most minor expenses - including snack-time cookies in the office!

A Reuters story today quoted a consultant working with big banks saying bans on travel for a week each month and restrictions on colour photocopying were examples of banks stamping out more trivial expenses.

"You will usually get a wave of petty restrictions, as much to get the message across to staff as to actually cut costs," he said.

Aggregate revenue for 11 of Europe's biggest banks dropped 3 percent in the first half of this year from a year ago, while costs rose by 4 percen, Reuters reported. .At Credit Suisse (CSGN.VX), operating expenses as a share of net revenues soared to 80.8 percent in the first half from 72.9 percent a year ago and 42.7 percent in the first half of 2005.

That means for every 100 francs taken by the bank, over 80 francs went out the door on staff and other costs, Reuters said.

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