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The Highest Price Ever: The Great NYSE Seat Sale of 1928 1929 and Capacity Constraints

  • Davis, Lance E.
  • Neal, Larry
  • White, Eugene

A surge in orders during the stock market boom of the late 1920s collided against the constraint created by the fixed number of brokers on the New York Stock Exchange. Estimates of the determinants of individual stock bid-ask spreads from panel data reveal that spreads jumped when volume spiked, confirming contemporary observers complaints that there were insufficient counterparties. When the position of the NYSE as the dominant exchange became threatened, the management of the exchange proposed a 25 percent increase in the number of seats in February 1929 by issuing a quarter-seat dividend to all members. While such a "stock split" would be expected to leave the aggregate value of the NYSE unchanged, an event study reveals that its value rose in anticipation of increased efficiency. These expectations were justified as bid-ask spreads became less sensitive to peak volume days after the increase in seats.

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Article provided by Cambridge University Press in its journal The Journal of Economic History.

Volume (Year): 67 (2007)
Issue (Month): 03 (September)
Pages: 705-739

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Handle: RePEc:cup:jechis:v:67:y:2007:i:03:p:705-739_00
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  1. Easley, David & O'Hara, Maureen, 1987. "Price, trade size, and information in securities markets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 69-90, September.
  2. Stoll, Hans R, 1978. "The Supply of Dealer Services in Securities Markets," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 33(4), pages 1133-51, September.
  3. Menyah, Kojo & Paudyal, Krishna, 1996. "The Determinants and Dynamics of Bid-Ask Spreads on the London Stock Exchange," Journal of Financial Research, Southern Finance Association;Southwestern Finance Association, vol. 19(3), pages 377-94, Fall.
  4. Jarrell, Gregg A, 1984. "Change at the Exchange: The Causes and Effects of Deregulation," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 27(2), pages 273-312, October.
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  6. Schwert, G. William, 1977. "Stock exchange seats as capital assets," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(1), pages 51-78, January.
  7. Donald B. Keim & Ananth Madhavan, . "The Information Contained in Stock Exchange Seat Prices," Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research Working Papers 7-98, Wharton School Rodney L. White Center for Financial Research.
  8. S. Baranzoni & P. Bianchi & L. Lambertini, 2000. "Market Structure," Working Papers 368, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.
  9. Donald B. Keim & Ananth Madhavan, 2000. "The Relation between Stock Market Movements and NYSE Seat Prices," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 55(6), pages 2817-2840, December.
  10. G. William Schwert, 1977. "Public Regulation of National Securities Exchanges: A Test of the Capture Hypothesis," Bell Journal of Economics, The RAND Corporation, vol. 8(1), pages 128-150, Spring.
  11. Madhavan, Ananth, 2000. "Market microstructure: A survey," Journal of Financial Markets, Elsevier, vol. 3(3), pages 205-258, August.
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