Great fleas have little fleas upon their
backs to bite 'em, And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so
ad infinitum. And the great fleas themselves, in turn,
have greater fleas to go on; While these again have greater still, and
greater still, and so on.
In the financial flea circus of the '20s, the giant holding companies, Electric Bond & Share and North American, were star performers. Bond & Share, run by Sidney Zollicoffer Mitchell, controlled five intermediary holding companies, and through them sat on the backs of 231 subsidiaries. Its $3½ billion empire supplied power in 34 states from Florida to Oregon,...