Security and Exchange Commission


Joseph Kennedy the first head of the SEC

The Security and Exchange Commission was established in 1934 to regulate the selling of stocks. Joseph Kennedy became the first commissioner.

The Securities and Exchange Commission was created to regulate the issuance of securities (stocks). The bill that established the S.E.C. gave it the responsibility to enforce the Securities Act of 1933. It also limited the amount of money that a broker could lend a buyer, and the amount of money a bank could lend a broker. Once the S.E.C. had been created, the next question was who would head the new Commission.  Roosevelt’s choice was surprising to many. FDR appointed Joseph Kennedy to be the first head of the S.E.C. Kennedy had been an early supporter of Roosevelt. Though many liberals were astonished Roosevelt had appointed someone known to have been a stock manipulator. However, Roosevelt answered that “it took a thief to capture and thief.” Beyond that, Roosevelt understood that for this father of a future President, his time accumulating money was over. Now it was time for Joe Kennedy to establish a good name for his family. By all accounts, both then, and now in retrospect Kennedy acquitted himself well as the S.E.C. Commissioner– creating the bedrock foundation of an agency that has lasted to this day.