Corporations: Standard & Unpoor

From a set of dingy offices in a factory district on Manhattan's lower West Side, an invitation goes out each month politely but firmly summoning the head of a major U.S. corporation to appear for a discussion of his business. Only the foolhardy ever refuse. As the headquarters of the 101-year-old Standard & Poor's Corp., the unpretentious offices on Hudson Street house one of the major power centers of the U.S. financial community.

Standard & Poor's business is collecting and publishing the vital financial statistics of U.S. businesses and passing judgment on each company's worth as an investment. Even to...

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