Wall Street: Last Act in the Cliff-Hanger?

All this year, Wall Street has been enacting a financial version of The Perils of Pauline, with the customers playing Pauline. Time and again, investors have been threatened with loss of the money and stock held for them by brokerage houses that have gone to the brink of insolvency—or fell over it. Repeatedly, the financial community has prevented disaster by rounding up new capital for the failing firm, arranging a shotgun merger or, as a last resort, ransoming customers' stock by making payments out of a $55 million New York Stock Exchange trust fund. Last week Wall Street managed...

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