Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society

The Bright Image: The SEC, 1961-1973

Special Study of Securities Markets

"For the Protection of Investors"

“The Commission is convinced that the Congress and the investing public expect our study to be as thoroughgoing as our budget of time, manpower and money will permit.”
- Undated letter from SEC Commissioner Jack M. Whitney II to Edwin Darby, The Chicago Sun-Times

In early September 1961, at the urging of Cary, Congress authorized the SEC "to make a study and investigation of the adequacy, for the protection of investors, of the rules of national securities exchanges and national securities associations."(8) Congress appropriated $750,000 to hire staff to make special studies of the over-the-counter market, small securities issues, and investment advisory services. Cary hired Milton Cohen, a former SEC staff member, along with attorneys, economists, statisticians, financial analysts, and professional and support staff to complete what would come to be known as the Special Study of Securities Markets.

Politics played a role in the creation of the Special Study group. Cohen demanded quasi-independence from control of the Commission, agreeing that the Special Study group would report its findings to the Commission, but would not require the five-member Commission itself to approve those findings. SEC supporters in Congress, among them House Speaker Sam Rayburn (D-TX), wanted the study to focus on the markets and not the SEC. Cary had to navigate opposing political viewpoints, including a fundamental disagreement over whether SEC regulation or market competition should be the animating feature of securities law.

<<Previous Next >>


(8) "Securities Market Investigation," House Commerce Committee, 87-1 (1961).

Related Museum Resources


1960s (undated)
transcript pdf (Government Records)
March 6, 1962
transcript pdf (Government Records)
April 16, 1962
image pdf (Government Records)
August 28, 1962
document pdf (Courtesy of Eugene Rotberg)
April 3, 1963
image pdf (Government Records)
August 10, 1963
image pdf (Government Records)
October 2, 2001
document pdf


Sidney Robbins, Ralph Saul, Milton Cohen, Richard Paul and Herbert Schick

Oral Histories

29 November 2001

Milton Cohen

29 November 2001

Ralph Saul


04 October 2001

Roundtable on 1963 Special Study

Moderator: Brandon Becker, Irving Pollack
Presenter(s): Robert Birnbaum, Milton Cohen, Meyer Eisenberg, Norman Poser, Eugene Rotberg, Ralph Saul, Fred Siesel, David Silver, Stanley Sporkin


Permission for Use

The virtual museum and archive is copyrighted by the SEC Historical Society. The Society reserves the right to restrict access to or use of the museum by any user at any time.

Users are prohibited from sharing or downloading any material for publication or commercial purposes without written permission from the Executive Director. Requests for permission must be submitted by email and specify the material requested and for what purpose.

Material used with the Society's permission should be credited to: