Looking back: the journal in 1930.

Position:Centennial Countdown

During the months leading up to the JofA's centennial issue in October 2005, we are publishing excerpts from past editions that offer a glimpse into some of the timeless subjects the JofA has covered throughout its first 100 years. "For Protection of the Public" was an editorial in the October 1930 issue. Written only one year after the start of the Great Depression, and before passage of the 1933 and 1934 securities acts, it made points about independence, transparency of reporting and serving the public interest that remain relevant 75 years later.

In times of stagnant markets the public does not feel a vital interest in security markets, but when there are sharp rises and falls people who have investments or may have investments become aroused, and then comes the request for explicit information for the guidance of investors and demand for the amelioration of any conditions which may be adverse to the general welfare. There was a time not many years ago when every stock exchange maintained a sort of top-lofty attitude. There was a feeling, although perhaps not openly expressed, that the public, if the public objected, could be damned. But that time has gone. There may be an individual financial house here and there which still labors under the delusion of autocracy, but for the most part people, whether in finance or business, are beginning to find out that there is a common level of things and that to that level all will ultimately return. The committees which are to be appointed will not bring about perfection. [Editor's note: The writer evidently refers to committees being appointed at that time by the American Institute of Accountants and the New York Stock Exchange to work on problems relating to investors, exchanges and accountants.] They will probably, like most committees, fall somewhat short of the great expectations which accompany their birth. But if, as is to be hoped, the committees selected by the two organizations are strong and truly representative of the best, it is not too much to expect that they will bring about substantial benefits. They will no doubt...

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