In response to the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing bank failures and worldwide depression, a number of government agencies were created or adapted to protect Americans and the economy. Some of the major reforms were:
Glass-Steagall Banking Act Passed in 1933 to provide for the separation of commercial and investment banking, the act severely limited the use of bank credit for speculation, extended the Federal Reserve system and permitted branch banking. To prevent a recurrence of the epidemic of bank failures, the act created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.
Opened in 1934 at the height of the Depression, following a banking crisis in which thousands of banks failed. The corporation protects depositors by insuring their accounts up to $100,000 in banks insured by the FDIC and by regularly examining and rating banks. The FDIC can close a bank if it persists in following unsafe or unsound practices or is violating a law or regulation.
Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp.
Opened in 1934 to stimulate confidence in thrift and home financing institutions. The corporation is similar in purpose and structure to the FDIC.
Federal Reserve System
Created in 1913 to put an end to the periodic bank panics suffered by the country in the previous century. The rash of bank failures in the '20s and '30s led to greatly expanded powers for the Federal Reserve. The system was given authority to regulate stock market margins and vary reserve requirements. When the stock market crashed in 1929, an investor could buy stock with only 10 percent down. Now investors must put 50 percent down.
Securities and Exchange Commission
Created in 1934 to administer federal securities laws that seek to provide protection for investors. The purpose of the laws is to ensure that the securities markets are fair and honest and provide the means to enforce the securities laws through sanctions where necessary. Laws administered by the commission are the Securities Act of 1933, Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935, Trust Indenture Act of 1939, Investment Company Act of 1940, Investment Advisers Act of 1940. The commission is an independent, nonpartisan, quasi-judicial regulatory agency.
NOTE: The Treasury Department, Commodities Futures Trading Commission, Comptroller of the Currency and Federal Home Loan Bank Board are also among the organizations involved in regulating the financial system or making economic policy.