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HISTORY Securities Investor Protection Act      (Page 177)

Before 1938, little protection existed for customers of a bankrupt stockbroker unless they could trace cash and securities held by failed stockbrokers. In 1938 Congress enacted section 60(e) of the Bankruptcy Act creating a single and separate fund concept to minimize losses to customers by giving them priority over claims of general creditors. 1898 Bankruptcy Act § 60(e)(2) (repealed). Because the fund was normally inadequate, however, customer losses continued.

Following a period of great expansion in the securities industry during the 1960's, a serious business contraction hit the industry in 1969-1970. This situation led to voluntary liquidations, mergers, receiverships, and bankruptcies of a substantial number of brokerage houses. Annotation, Validity, Construction, and Application of Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970, 23 A.L.R. Fed. 157, 179 (1975). The cash and securities customers that had deposited with these failed firms were dissipated or tied up in lengthy bankruptcy proceedings. In addition to mounting customer losses and the subsequent erosion of investor confidence, the Congress was concerned with a possible “domino effect” involving otherwise solvent brokers that had substantial open transactions with firms that failed.

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