The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent
The Stock Market Then and Now

The Stock Market Then and Now

05/31/2021 12:09
Anderson Patterson

Table of Contents

Understanding how the stock market worksThe stock market in the 1950sThe stock market in the 1970s Stock market today 

Advances in communications and technologies have rendered the world less than it was 50 years ago. None is more obvious than that in the investment sector, where technology advancements have changed the investment process entirely.

Around the same period, regulatory reforms in recent decades have fluctuated the boundaries between banks and brokerages. These developments and the growth in globalization after the 1980s have enhanced investors' prospects. However, these improved rewards were often associated with greater threats. Investment is thus now more difficult than in previous decades, in particular, the 1950s and 1970s.

Understanding how the stock market works

The philosophy behind the workings of the stock market is very plain. A business like an auction house allows buyers and sellers to share and exchange rates.

The financial market operates through an exchange network—you may have read from the Nasdaq or New York Stock Exchange. Companies list their securities on a market through an initial public bid or the IPO phase. Investors buy these securities, enabling the firm to raise capital to expand its operations. Investors will then purchase and sell these shares together and watch each stock's supply and demand.

This supply and demand assists in deciding the price or prices at which market players — buyers and traders — are prepared to purchase or sell for any security.

The stock market in the 1950s

The first stockholder and the Great Depression

According to the first shareholder census conducted in 1952, only 6.5 million American shares were held by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) (about 4.2 percent of the U.S. population). The 1929 market crash and the Great Depression of the 1930s left a ten-year scar, and the majority of citizens avoided stocks in the 1950s.It was only in 1954 that, 25 years after the collapse, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) exceeded its 1929 high.

The Glas-Steagall Act of 1933

The investment mechanism often took more time and cost in the early 1950s than it does today. The Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 forbids commercial banks from operating on Wall Street and separates stock brokerages.

Big set fees 

Set fees became the norm, and restricted competition ensured that these fees were very large and non-negotiable. The shortcomings of technology in all those days indicated that the implementation of stock business took some time from initial communication between a shareholder and a broker before the ticket was produced and implemented.

In the 1950s, investment options were still somewhat small. The big mutual fund bubble was still a long way off and there was no idea of foreign investment. Active market values were often very challenging to achieve; an investor who desired an existing stock price limit had little option but to contact a stockbroker.

The growing trade market

While the relatively new equity investment at the period was expressed in thin trade rates, conditions already began to shift in the mid-1950s. In 1953, the last year was characterized by regular NYSE trade rates below one million units. In 1954, the NYSE unveiled its monthly schedule of investments that allowed investors to spend just under $40 a month. This growth preceded the monthly investment schemes that were later sold by most of the mutual funds, which contributed to broad acceptance in the 1970s and 1980s of inventory investment by the US population.

The stock market in the 1970s 

Dow Jones rose by 5% within 10 years 

The transition in the investment mechanism intensified in the 1970s, even as the American equity market was in the middle of this era of stagflation. The DJIA, which at the beginning of the 1970s stood only above 800, had only gone up to about 839 when the 10-year period ended, a 5 percent rise during this 10-year stretch. 

The rise of mutual funds 

However, after the development of individual retirement accounts (IRA) in 1974 under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and the implementation of the first index fund in 1976, mutual funds became mainstream. In 1974, the NYSE trade time was increased by 30 minutes in order to meet demand expansion. 

The great shift to electronic trading 

Perhaps the greatest shift for investors in this period was more electronic than traditional securities transactions. Inaugurated in 1968 to accommodate the amounts of trade, the Central Certificate Service was succeeded by the Depository Trust Company in 1973. This means that buyers are now more inclined than actual stock certificates to hold their stocks in a single repository in electronic form.

Merril Lynch listed its stocks

Merrill Lynch was the first NYSE participant to list its stock on the market in 1971. In 1975, the Securities and Exchange Commission prohibited fixed minimum commission prices in a key move, which had always been a pillar of the U.S. securities and exchanges worldwide.

20% of the American population participated in the stock market.

These developments, along with the rapid increase of exchange and selling owing to the growing usage of automation and technologies, laid the groundwork for substantially higher commercial volumes and the growing popularity of stock investments over the coming years. In 1982, the regular amount of trading on the NYSE first crossed 100 million. By 1990, the NYSE survey showed that over 51 million Americans have inventories and over 20% of the American population.

20% of the American population participated in the stock market

Stock market today 

Investment is a much simpler operation than in previous decades, with buyers able to exchange esoteric shares with a mouse-click in distant markets. The range of investment options is now so vast that new investors may be overwhelmed and frustrated. A series of innovations during the last two decades have mostly led to the current investment model as a result of technical advances.

The birth of the internet and computers

Firstly, the proliferation of cost-effective personal computers and the internet-enabled virtually any investor to take charge of everyday investments.

Next, the trend of mobile brokerages allowed investors to pay fees on transactions smaller than they did for full-service brokerages. Lower commissions allowed quicker trade, leading to people doing day trading as a standard job in some cases.

Thirdly, due to the introduction of decimal prices on all stocks in 2001, the expanded offer expenditure has also declined considerably (another trend that encourages rapid trading).

Finally, ETFs enabled any shareholder to trade stocks, commodities, and currencies on domestic and international markets, as well as make it easier for investors to employ more sophisticated techniques such as short selling. These ETFs make it easier for investors. (Look at the Short Selling and see how to sell short.)

The number of these influences has risen in the new century. On 4 January 2001, the NYSE trade value for the very first time surpassed 2 billion units. On 27 February 2007, NYSE volume set a new high and exchanged over 4 billion units.

Anderson Patterson | Anderson is a video editor and developer who believes in the power of visual organization. He recently graduated from the University of Washington, where he concentrated on post-production during his studies. He was first exposed to the mystical world of visual art creation while watching his father edit advertisements when he was a child, and he has been working towards his dream of becoming a video editor ever since.


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