Wall Street needed Wednesdays off in the late 1960s. By 1968, the NYSE found itself sitting on more than $4 billion in unprocessed transactions. Trading had risen to 21 million shares daily; by contrast, even in the heavy volume days in 1929, trading never went above 16 million shares. Papers stacked up on desks. A (now old) joke formed: If a fan blew the wrong way in a Wall Street office, visitors below could expect a ticker-tape parade."Everybody agreed that the securities-processing system had virtually broken down, and the only major point of dispute was who was more responsible for the mess: the back offices of the brokerage firms of the stock-transfer agents," Securities and Exchange Commission Commissioner Ray Garrett, Jr. said in 1974. Some 100 broker-dealers failed, crumbling under the pressure of fulfilling those back-orders. The fix: an organization akin to the FDIC, the Securities Investor Protection Corporation.
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