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Wall Street’s New Deal: FDR’s Struggle to Regulate the Finance World

Featured Events | Sep 28, 2023 |

When President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his New Deal allies set out to regulate Wall Street in the wake of the 1929 stock market crash, they were up against Wall Street’s old guard who fought them every step of the way. The ensuing struggle between two different visions of financial power and federal responsibility has since shaped how the United States manages money to this day.

Diana B. Henriques explores the highs and lows of FDR’s political struggle and the resulting regulatory bodies in her sixth book, Taming the Street: The Old Guard, the New Deal and FDR’s Fight to Regulate American Capitalism. The former New York Times staff writer and Pulitzer Prize finalist paints this era as both landmark history and a real-life thriller in this webinar sponsored by the Gabelli Center for Global Security Analysis, Museum of American Finance, and CFA Society of New York.

Given the foundations set in the past, some audience members questioned if financial regulation is even still needed today. Henriques argued that while Roosevelt ushered in a new era of financial oversight, it needs to adapt to the Wall Street of the moment, and should continue to grow and evolve.

“We have emerged with a clear consensus among those who studied [ previous ] crises that our regulatory system today has become fragmented and balkanized, and that no agency has the kind of 360-degree vision and authority that is required to cope with modern finance,” she said. “We no longer have separate markets for derivatives, options, stocks, commodities, or bonds, we have one big market. We need to streamline financial regulation so that it is broader and better able to cope with the single marketplace.”

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