Appeal to Main Street

Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Beane is often mockingly called "The Bureau of Missing Persons." The joke has some point. The world's biggest brokerage house has 89 partners. Its downtown Manhattan office is so big that back-row customers' men use binoculars to read the tiny stock-price figures on the automatic electric board. The overhead on this and 99 other offices across the U.S. is so big, laments Managing Partner Winthrop Hiram Smith, that "it costs us $70,000 a day just to open the doors." Last week, Merrill Lynch reported that not enough business came through those doors in 1949. Profits...

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