The year just passed has been one of the most remarkable on record for the financial services industry. Indeed, for many market participants, the changes witnessed over the previous 12 months were once thought inconceivable. Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, two iconic names on Wall Street, are no more. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae were seized by the U.S. government, Merrill Lynch was absorbed by Bank of America, and Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are now bank holding companies. The housing industry has imploded, politicians and regulators are chomping at the bit to reverse how Wall Street does business, and investors are downright spooked.

But we already know all that...

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