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In Street Name
When you purchase stocks or securities, there are two options:
- You can have them registered in your name.
- You can have them registered in the name of your broker's institution (for example, Goldman Sachs)
If you choose Door #2, your stocks are held in account for you, but are formally registered to Merrill-Lynch or wherever your broker works.
Why would you want your securities in someone else's name? Well, it's how a lot of brokers do business. It lets them lend your stock to people who what to sell it short.
It also cuts down on the paperwork that would interfere with your broker's golf game...
Check the fine print on your brokerage agreements to see whether your securities are in street name.