Analysts who have spent most of this decade awaiting a tidal wave of mergers among California's thrifts finally saw their patience rewarded last year. Now they're mounting the merger vigil in metropolitan New York.

New York has four big thrifts-Dime Bancorp, GreenPoint Financial Corp., Astoria Financial Corp., and Long Island Savings Bank. Between them, the thrifts have hundreds of branches in a compact, densely populated market that is very competitive.

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