Business

Week of cheers and tears in Charlotte

If you don't like roller coasters, this probably isn't a good time to be in Charlotte.

The financial news over the past few days has taken us on an emotional ride that has been both frightening and exhilarating.

I'm sitting here with a handkerchief to wipe the tears in one hand and a champagne glass in the other.

Cheers: Bank of America agreed to buy Merrill Lynch, one of the world's largest brokerages, bringing a piece of Wall Street to Tryon Street and raising Charlotte's international profile.

Tears: Analysts say another merger probably means more job cuts even as the bank slashes 7,500 positions as part of its purchase of mortgage lender Countrywide Financial.

Cheers: Wachovia was in talks this week with another venerable brokerage, Morgan Stanley. That possibly could bring one more big Wall Street name to Charlotte.

Tears: It's unclear whether this would be a merger of equals or a purchase. On the bad news side, the brokerage could acquire Wachovia and, local leaders fear, move the bank's headquarters to New York City.

Cheers: Center city has over 3 million square feet of new office space coming on line to accommodate newcomers and bank growth.

Tears: No one is sure how much space the banks, the big drivers in the uptown office market, will need after the dust settles. Landlords could end up crying in their imported beer.

Cheers: In the sniping contest between Charlotte and in-state rival Raleigh, Charlotte definitely scored a bull's eye.

Tears: Raleigh is still the seat of state government, and the Eastern North Carolina-dominated legislature still isn't likely to give Charlotte leaders what they believe is a fair share of road-building money.

So, are we happy or sad?

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