Biz Brief: Morgan Stanley Closing 300 Offices, Cutting Staff

Morgan Stanley (MS) is reportedly closing 300 offices and laying off up to 1,200 employees over the next year. The cuts come as Morgan Stanley merges with SmithBarney; Citigroup (C) sold 51% of SmithBarney to Morgan Stanley last year.

While the cuts are related to the elimination of redundancies resulting from the merger, some commentators (ZeroHedge) see this as further proof that small investors are avoiding the stock market as volatility and uncertainty rise. Fewer retail investors mean less work -- and lower profits -- for retail brokers like Morgan Stanley and SmithBarney.
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