The Unseen Wall Street of 1969-1975: And Its Significance for Today

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13
The Twists and Turns toward the Reorganization of The New York Stock Exchange

The final months of 1970 and the year 1971 were even more turbulent and stress-filled than has been described in previous chapters. On November 17, 1970, President Bob Haack made a speech1 before the Economic Club of New York that shook the very foundations of The New York Stock Exchange. The speech enraged Bunny Lasker who as you may remember had just saved giant Goodbody & Co. from bankruptcy, was strugglying to save even bigger F. I. duPont, Glore Forgan from bankruptcy, was dealing with the actual bankruptcies of several smaller firms, and was trying to get the Securities Investors Protection Corporation bill passed.

Bob Haack chose this time, when the very existence of The New York Stock Exchange was in more danger than ever before, to openly reveal his antagonism toward Bunny Lasker -- or perhaps more accurately, his antagonism to Bunny's objectives and methods.

Bunny Lasker wanted not just to preserve The New York Stock Exchange; he wanted to preserve it as it always had been. His motives, in the judgment of men who knew him such as Ed O'Brien and Jim Lynch, were not just economic. His firm was profiting handsomely from the high, fixed commissions that NYSE rules mandated, but he also loved the institution for its own sake, especially the comradeship and the trust the members had in him.2

But he was not rigid in his defensive strategies. Like a wise commander-in-chief he avoided Pyrrhic victories. He had done little, you may remember, to prevent Dan Lufkin and his DLJ partners from changing the rules so that member firms could sell shares in their firms to the public.

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