Five months ago, Wall Street was braced for the worst. Profits were shriveling as the merger-and-acquisition business ran dry, firms were shedding workers by the thousands, and Manhattan's financial district, once packed with people, looked eerily empty. First Boston, Shearson Lehman Brothers, and Prudential Securities were sucking capital from their rich parents just to stay afloat. Nothing short of a miracle, it seemed, could prevent 1991 from being another year of misery.
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