The United States after the World War

By James C. Malin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV
REGULATION OF BUSINESS

ADJUSTMENTS OF THE NEWER PROBLEMS

WHILE the older problems of business -- the relations between business and the public -- continued, the newer problems -- the relations between management and diffused ownership -- were insistent. Could the corporation be democratized? As regards the former, time had given some perspective, and experience had established some precedents; as regards the latter, the full implications of the problem could not be understood. President Coolidge invited Professor Ripley to the White House for conference on these problems. The White House spokesman announced February 17, 1926, that the question of split common stock was considered by the President to be a matter of state jurisdiction. Although this view was sound so far as it went, it was still true that the Federal government did have jurisdiction in some cases. The Interstate Commerce Commission denied the Nickel Plate merger at least partly on these grounds. The states could act through their general charter regulations, and some did in the Dodge Motors deal, refusing to permit the sale of the stock within the state. Federal incorporation of interstate and foreign business would reach the problems under consideration.

On the broader question of diffused ownership of stock and corporation government Professor Ripley and others outlined some constructive adjustments. The first of these was the independent audit. The purpose of such an audit must be more than a determination of the mathematical accuracy of the accounts: it must make an examination into the busi-

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