Commentary: Why E Brokers Are Broker And Broker

Barely a year ago, online brokers looked poised to take over Wall Street. Discounters E*Trade, Ameritrade, and Datek were sending shivers down the spines of hidebound mammoths like Merrill Lynch & Co. Their cheap trades drew in a growing legion of retail investors. These upstarts suddenly seemed on track to become as highly valued as Wall Street veterans. By last March, E*Trade Group's $9.4 billion market capitalization topped that of Bear Stearns Cos.

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