Brokers are bitter—and for good reason. Since the sub-prime slaughter began this summer, many of those at Merrill Lynch, Smith Barney, Morgan Stanley and the other wirehouse firms, have seen their net worth, tied up largely in deferred stock, cut by a third or more. They’ve had to endure panicky phone calls from clients (“Tell me why I shouldn’t move my money to Goldman Sachs”), and while they were calculating acceptable risk/return for those clients, their own firms were letting it ride on packages of loans to people with either horrendous, or non-existent, credit histories. Much of the vitriol is aimed at the traders: “The traders do this every few years or so, and we [the retail brokerage unit] bail them out,” grouses one wirehouse financial advisor we know. Here’s a story (read here ) that helps explain the salty mood in a brief history of several of the large firms.