Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society

The Institution of Experience: Self-Regulatory Organizations in the Securities Industry, 1792-2010

Evolution of the Perfect Institution


- 1908 New York Stock Exchange

As New Dealers drafted provisions in the Exchange Act, including a provision creating the Securities and Exchange Commission, NYSE president Richard Whitney predicted a disaster that would destroy the delicate machinery of the institution. "You gentlemen are making a great mistake," he warned. "The exchange is a perfect institution." 23

As it turned out, the SEC saw a great deal worth preserving in the New York Stock Exchange and the regional stock exchanges. From its start in 1934, and for almost four decades after, the SEC usually was willing to let SROs take the lead in supervising their members and regulating market activity. After several crises and uncorrected market abuses, the SEC sought from Congress enhanced powers of supervision over the SROs themselves. Congress obliged with the Securities Acts Amendments of 1975. By then, no one any longer claimed that the NYSE was perfect.

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Related Museum Resources


April 12, 1934
transcript pdf (with permission of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library and Museum)
May 30, 1934
transcript pdf (with permission of the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Library and Museum)
June 6, 1934
document pdf (Government Records)


(Courtesy of the Library of Congress )

Film, Radio And Television

February 1934

"Richard Whitney on Proposed Market Regulation," Fox Movietone News Film

with permission of the Newsfilm Library, University of South Carolina

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