Summary of Wall Street to Main Street

Charles Merrill and Middle-Class Investors

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Wall Street to Main Street book summary
Charles Merrill of Merrill Lynch made the American brokerage industry what it is today, an industry that reflects his vision and innovations.


8 Overall

5 Applicability

7 Innovation

9 Style


Charles Merrill is an authentic American genius and today’s capital markets bear his distinctive stamp in many ways, as Edwin J. Perkins’ book proves in fascinating detail. While the book works as a business history and as a professional portrait, it is less successful as a biography because Perkins deliberately chose to focus on Merrill’s professional life. By keeping Merrill’s personal life very much in the background, Perkins declines to bring Merrill’s personality to life. We learn about his career, but we do not seem to get to know the man himself. Happily, Merrill’s achievements and business innovations are well worth examining. His commitment to service, integrity and the good of the common customer - even when that angered the elite customer - made him richer than most of the aristocrats who fought against him. getAbstract recommends this worthy portrayal of a riveting role model to entrepreneurs, finance professionals and any business history buff.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Who Charles Merrill was
  • How he succeeded in brokerage
  • Why today’s entire brokerage industry reflects Merrill’s vision and innovations


In October 1939, just after the outbreak of World War II, semi-retired entrepreneur Charles Merrill agreed to rejoin his sleepy brokerage firm, Merrill Lynch & Company, on a full time basis. Charlie Merrill had once been one of Wall Street’s leading lights. He’d predicted the 1929 stock market crash...
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About the Author

Edwin J. Perkins is professor emeritus of history at the University of Southern California. He is an expert on the history of American financial services and has written five books, including a history of the New York banking firm, Brown Brothers Harriman. He has testified before the U.S. Congress about proposed reforms of outdated banking laws.

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