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Investors Look Everywhere For Advice, From Brokers to Astrologers to Mom

October 26, 1987

BOSTON (AP) _ The stock market may have collapsed, but there’s a booming trade in financial advice.

Booksellers are getting more browsers in their business sections, with a doomsday forecast entitled ″The Great Depression of 1990″ a big seller. Newsstands report brisk sales of financial newspapers, and stock brokerage houses report unprecedented inquiries.

″The phones are pretty busy,″ said Ryan Butler of L.F. Rothschild in Boston. ″People are asking what’s going to happen, should we sell. Some people seem just blown out, emotionally, and other people can smell an opportunity.″

Peter Leach, vice president for media relations of Merrill Lynch, said the rate for opening new accounts each day has been ″at least 10 times normal.″ He speculated that some of the increase may have come from people who could not get through to discount houses last week because of the heavy volume.

Sandra Bromfield, a Boston-area financial planner, said she has received more calls from people who had been making investment decisions on their own.

Leach said Merrill Lynch has not added employees to deal with the crunch of business, but that at least half of its 11,000 financial consultants in 480 offices around the country were in on Saturday to talk with clients and clear out paperwork from the hectic week.

E.F. Hutton was kept busy during expanded hours Friday night and on Saturday going over portfolios with clients, said spokesman Bob Sharkey.

People also have been snapping up copies of The Wall Street Journal and its weekly cousin, Barron’s, Boston area vendors said. A spokeswoman for the Journal said the print run for its half million newsstand editions was boosted nationally 20 percent Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Waldenbooks and B. Dalton’s Bookseller chains reported a surge in business, especially in sales of ″The Great Depression of 1990,″ written by Southern Methodist University Professor Ravi Batra. A spokeswoman for the book’s publisher, Simon and Schuster, said there has been a notable increase in sales all over the country in the past week. She would not disclose exact figures.

″People are starting to take that book seriously now, whereas before people were treating it as if it were a little off the wall,″ said Frank Allen, a manager at Boston University Bookstore. But he said consumers are shying away from other books on the stock market.

″There aren’t a lot of books dealing with the stock market going down. Most are more positive guides towards investing and I don’t think people feel they can trust those books,″ Allen said.

Those investors who believe stars tell them more than stock tables turned to Cambridge astrologer Barbara Koval. Her clientele belong to the middle-and upper-income brackets, and include economists, she said.

When they come asking about love and money, she says her advice on the latter always is conservative.

The brokers could use advice and consoling themselves, said Rothschild’s Butler.

″Every trader, every broker is getting more emotionally involved than the investors,″ he said.

Butler says he gets his advice from his mother, Pat, who assured him: ″Listen, hang in there. It’s always darkest before the dawn.″