Online Menace?

A Merrill Lynch executive attacks discount brokers as a threat to investors. Wrong!

Online trading can be intoxicating. The commissions are so low and the action so fast-paced that hundreds of thousands of new people each month find themselves hooked into the Internet, trading for $8 a pop, loving the excitement and potentially the rewards. But has online trading turned the stock market into a giant casino that threatens the financial lives of Americans? That's what John Steffens, a Merrill Lynch vice chairman in charge of stock brokerage, contends. He has gone to war against Internet trading in a series of public speeches, chronicled last week in the Wall Street Journal, urging individuals to...

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