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The Merrill Lynch Moving Dance: A Super-Cynical Conspiracy Theory

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This weekend saw a flurry of stories and rumors about whether Merrill Lynch, one of the largest employers in lower Manhattan, might relocate its headquarters outside of the city. Crain’s was the first media source to report on Friday that Merrill was mulling the move.
Subsequent reports raised doubts that Merrill was seriously considering moving out of New York City. One rumor was that the report was spread by Merrill’s real estate negotiators seeking subsidies from the city. But when Mayor Mike Bloomberg publicly and emphatically denied that the city would subsidize a new deal for Merrill, that possibility seemed to fade.
So what’s really going on? Is Merrill leaving? Well, it’s always a possibility. But it seems more likely that Merrill is using both stories—the possibility of moving and the unavailability of subsidies from the city—to negotiate a better deal for real estate on the World Trade Center site.