Bulge bracket Definition
Bulge bracket is a finance term referring to the first group listed on the 'tombstone'. That is, the group of firms in an underwriting syndicate (a group of investment banks) who are responsible for selling the largest amounts of the stock to investors. Their names appear first in the advertisement listing, called the tombstone.
The term 'bulge bracket' loosely translates into the largest full service brokerages/investment banks as measured by various league table standings. In common phraseology, Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch are considered the ultimate examples (sometimes called the “Super Bulge Bracket.”) Of late, Citigroup/Salomon Smith Barney, CSFB and increasingly JPMorgan Chase are considered to have joined the U.S. bulge bracket. Globally, JPMorgan Chase, Deutsche Bank and UBS Warburg/PaineWebber are typically thrown with the U.S. top five to form the so-called “Global Bulge Bracket.” (Outside of the U.S., Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and UBS frequently outrank Goldman in the league tables, for example.)