Chapter 14. Stretching to Meet the Man

If you get belted and see three fighters through the haze, go after the one in the middle.

former Heavyweight Champion Max Baer

As 2008 drew to a close, State Attorneys General William Galvin and Andrew Cuomo had wrestled nearly $61 billion in frozen funds from nine large banks and brokerages: Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Fidelity, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Credit Suisse, and Wachovia. Wells Fargo Investments on November 18, 2009, redeemed $1.3 billion in a settlement by California Attorney General Jerry Brown. Wells Fargo agreed to pay $1.9 million in fines, virtually all of which presumably will be taken out of stockholder shares.

Taken together, the various buybacks focused on retail investors, nonprofits, and other noninstitutional investors, while some large institutional sources were offered "delayed relief." That meant they'd have to wait six months to a year or more to get back their money.

It would be an overstatement to claim that our burgeoning online efforts were entirely responsible for the $61 billion in redemptions. But the growing legion of ARS investors had a distinct role. They ginned up the action in a letter-writing campaign and a series of telephone complaints to the AG's offices. By now we had found moles who were willing to offer advice and keep us in the loop. There were other important players with whom we worked, such as Kathy Kane's always lively and an interactive site called ...

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