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The Retiree Who Washed His Hands of Wall Street

Blair R. Williams, 63, has always distrusted Wall Street, but now he's deeply cynical. "Do they deliberately lie? The average investor may never know," he says. "But there are lots of people trying to lead us down the garden path." Williams, who lives in a retirement community in Monroe, N.J., entrusted $70,000 to a UBS PaineWebber broker last year. After three months, only $20,000 remained. "He seemed to have a great ability to pick absolutely the wrong stock." A week after his broker bought Compaq Computer Corp. (CPQ) at $45, the stock halved. Williams and his wife--who lost 15% of a $2 million nest egg in two years--now manage more of their own investments. "I'm much more distrustful of everything because of the markets, the dot-coms, and the Enrons," he says. "It was all fueled by greed."

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