Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society

In the Midst of Revolution: The SEC, 1973-1981

First Linking Buyers and Sellers

Conservative Approach to Radical Change

"It has been said that the business of business today is government. And while that may overstate the case, the business of dealing with government has become, at the very least, a mainstream activity of business."

- January 19, 1978 "A Conservative Approach to Radical Change" – Remarks by William M. Batten, New York Stock Exchange to a meeting of the Section of Banking, Corporation and Business Law of the New York State Bar Association

The New York Stock Exchange was not shy about protecting the system, nor about fighting proposed changes that it feared would seriously damage the profitability of member firms.

NYSE Chairman William Batten, borrowing the revolutionary metaphor, called for "a conservative approach to radical change." In a speech to the New York Bar Association Section on Banking, Corporation and Securities Law, Batten lamented the "ever-expanding web of government regulations" which he said had made corporate legal practice "one of the nation's liveliest and most consistent growth industries."(34) He detailed the dual history of the NYSE and SEC study of the creation of the central market system, and discussed the role of Congress in adopting the plan.

Batten questioned the SEC's capability to design a system that would be efficient, competitive, and that would strengthen the securities industry. The SEC, he suggested, ought to allow the system being developed by the exchanges to "evolve" gradually, and that the government in the guise of the SEC was ill-equipped to design and build a national market system. What Congress and the American people needed, he said, was a national market system, not a "nationalized market system" and the exchanges were steadily working toward that end.(35)

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Related Museum Resources


November 27, 1973
transcript pdf (All rights are owned exclusively by NYSE Euronext copyright 2008 NYSE Euronext, All Rights Reserved, Courtesy New York Stock Exchange Archives)
April 29, 1976
document pdf (Courtesy of the estate of John Evans)
May 11, 1976
document pdf (Courtesy of Roderick Hills)
August 3, 1976
document pdf (Courtesy of Roderick Hills)
November 23, 1976
image pdf (All rights are owned exclusively by NYSE Euronext (copyright) 2009 NYSE Euronext. All Rights Reserved, courtesy New York Stock Exchange Archives)
January 19, 1978
image pdf (All rights are owned exclusively by NYSE Euronext (copyright) 2009 NYSE Euronext. All Rights Reserved, courtesy New York Stock Exchange Archives)
June 12, 1978
image pdf (Courtesy of the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum)

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