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One of the beneficiaries of a giant merger such as Chase and Chemical Bank is the "pink slip" industry. Every time two corporations in the United States take marriage vows, thousands of people have to be laid off, and the victims will be issued pink slips.

The Guillotine Pink Slip Co. is one of the largest in the country. It is located in Greenwich, Conn., and looks more like a colonial mansion than an office building.William Stud, a jovial man, greeted me in his office, which overlooks a pond filled with swans. "Things must be good for you," I said.

"They have never been better. The companies are laying off workers left and right, and they have to come to us for reliable pink slips - ones that would not turn into sawdust when put in the washer by mistake."

"Can I see where you make the pink slips?"

"We don't make them in the United States. We print them in Korea."


"Yes. You see, when the Guillotine Pink Slip Co. merged with Red Ink Inc., we had to lay off 90 percent of our work force to pay interest on the junk bonds. So what we did was contract the manufacturing end of the business to Korea. They make fine pink slips, and when we hand them out, most Americans who receive them have no idea they were produced in the Far East."

"Did you feel bad letting so many people go?"

"We would have if we had been here. But all the executives flew to Florida for a sales meeting the week the slips were handed out."

"I suppose corporations can't have a merger without pink slips."

"The antitrust people in the Justice Department insist on it. They won't try to prevent a monopoly, but they are going to make sure all the employee firing is done by the book."

I said, "I suppose when it comes to Wall Street people don't count anymore."

"That's not necessarily true. When two Wall Street brokerages or investment houses merge, at least 50 percent of the employees have to be pink-slipped. It causes a lot of heartaches, particularly when the merged companies not only take away their jobs but also cancel their subscriptions to the Wall Street Journal."

"When you pink-slip someone, is there any way to ease the pain?"

"Well, some companies used to give away free turkeys at Thanksgiving. But they stopped doing it when the employees they fired didn't even have the grace to say, `Thank you.' "