The Politics of the Financial Services Revolution: The USA, by Michael Moran (auth.)

By Michael Moran (auth.)

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The scandalous and dangerous practices that culminated in the Wall Street Crash showed what perils accompanied a poorly regulated market order. William Douglas put it best in speaking of the Agencies created by the New Deal: the regulatory commissions, he remarked, were 'the outposts of capitalism; they have been given increasingly large patrol duties lest capitalism, by its own greed, avarice, or myopia destroy itself' ,31 The economic purpose of the reforms in banking and securities was to restrict competition.

Over the decades there grew up a separate group of regulators. In the biggest banks and brokerage houses the regulatory function - which meant both applying internal rules, and negotiating with external bodies - emerged as a separate and specialised corporate role, usually performed by appropriately qualified lawyers and accountants. Self-regulation, the key part of meso-corporatism, was being taken out of the hands of practical businessmen and placed under control of professionals like lawyers.

59 The ban on price competition- which was what the system of minimum commissions amounted to - also put a stop to the structural change that is an inevitable outcome of competitive struggles. 60 By the 1960s minimum commissions conferred powerful advantages on member firms. The size of the Exchange meant that it dominated trading in most prestigious stocks in the American economy. Dealings in listed stock could in tum only be conducted through members, and a condition of membership of the Exchange was willingness to charge a minimum commission on bargains transacted.

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