It's been a busy week for Ameritrade (NASDAQ:AMTD). First, there were rumors of the wooing from E*Trade (NYSE:ET), followed by a formal declaration of courting.

Then came the announcement that Ameritrade had flashed E*Trade the big red light of love. In fact, the message was something more along the lines of, "Step off, fool! We'll be the ones to do the consolidating in this biz." Apparently, investors don't quite believe that the company is not for sale, or it took a fear of losing Ameritrade to a rival suitor to get them to appreciate its inner beauty. The stock hasn't retraced much from where it landed when the original merger speculation hit.

It's a gutsy maneuver, especially considering times are going to be tough. In just-reported numbers, trading volumes for April were down 30% from the prior-year period. That led to a modest downgrading of earnings guidance, to a range of $0.73 to $0.83 for the year.

In short, investors aren't nearly as enthusiastic about trading now that the recent bull has gone to pasture and it takes a bit more perseverance and patience to profit in the market. Couple that with a continuing price scuffle with the likes of JPMorgan's (NYSE:JPM) BrownCo, Scottrade, InteractiveBrokers, and others, and it makes for a grim-looking future.

For related Foolishness:

We say let the brokerages fight it out for your dollar, and may the best one win. Our Broker Center shows you how to open an account and lets you compare brokers to one another.

Seth Jayson must have himself about 15 brokerage accounts, but at the time of publication, he had no positions in any firm mentioned. View his stock holdings and Fool profile here. Fool rules are here.