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A Nation of Small Shareholders

Marketing Wall Street after World War II

Janice M. Traflet

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How New York Stock Exchange leaders in the decades after the Great Crash of 1929 helped popularize equity investing.

Immediately after the frightening Great Crash of 1929, many Americans swore they would "never" or "never again" become involved in the stock market. Yet hordes of Americans eventually did come to embrace equity investing, to an extent actually far greater than the level of popular involvement in the market during the Roaring 1920s. A Nation of Small Shareholders explores how marketers at the New York Stock Exchange during the mid twentieth century deliberately cultivated new…

How New York Stock Exchange leaders in the decades after the Great Crash of 1929 helped popularize equity investing.

Immediately after the frightening Great Crash of 1929, many Americans swore they would "never" or "never again" become involved in the stock market. Yet hordes of Americans eventually did come to embrace equity investing, to an extent actually far greater than the level of popular involvement in the market during the Roaring 1920s. A Nation of Small Shareholders explores how marketers at the New York Stock Exchange during the mid twentieth century deliberately cultivated new individual shareholders.

Janice M. Traflet examines the energy with which NYSE leaders tried to expand the country’s retail investor base, particularly as the Cold War emerged and then intensified. From the early 1950s until the 1970s, Exchange executives engaged in an ambitious and sometimes controversial marketing program known as "Own Your Share of America," which aimed to broaden the country’s shareholder base. The architects of the marketing program ardently believed that widespread shareownership would strengthen "democratic capitalism" which, in turn, would serve as an effective barrier to the potential allure of communism here in the United States.

Based on extensive primary source research, A Nation of Small Shareholders illustrates the missionary zeal with which Big Board leaders during the Cold War endeavored to convince factions within the Exchange as well as the outside public of the practical and ideological importance of building a true shareholder nation.

In these troubled economic times, every citizen should welcome studies that shed light on U.S. financial markets. A Nation of Small Shareholders puts the role of individual investors in broader, long-term perspective.

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A Nation of Small Shareholders

Janice M. Traflet

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Reviews

Reviews

This is a highly original, readable, and impressively well-researched book... It is essential reading not only for historians of Wall Street, but also for those interested in the history of advertising and marketing, and cultures of investment.

Traflet successfully explores the shifts in both small savers' attitudes toward stocks and in NYSE officials' attitudes toward small savers and mass merchandising.

Traflet makes a compelling argument for the role of the New York Stock Exchange in building a stronger shareholder culture, even if it did not turn out quite as the Board's members envisioned.

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Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6
x
9
Pages
256
ISBN
9781421409023
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Sowing an "Equity Culture"
1. Reeling from the Great Crash
2. Experimenting with Advertising
3. Marketing the "Own Your Share" Program
4. Courting Retail Investors during the

Acknowledgments
Introduction: Sowing an "Equity Culture"
1. Reeling from the Great Crash
2. Experimenting with Advertising
3. Marketing the "Own Your Share" Program
4. Courting Retail Investors during the Cold War
5. Selling Stocks on the Monthly Plan
6. Creating a Nation of "Sound" Investors
Epilogue: Own Your Share in Retrospect
Notes
Essay on Sources
Index

Author Bio
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Janice M. Traflet

Janice M. Traflet is an associate professor in the School of Management at Bucknell University.