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Almost a century ago, the stock market crash of 1929 and the resulting crisis of investor confidence spawned today's securities laws—specifically, the Securities Act of 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.

In the lead-up to the stock market crash of 1929, some $50 billion of new securities were floated in the United States. Half—or $25 billion worth of the securities floated during that period—proved to be worthless. In today's terms, adjusted for inflation, investor losses exceeded half a trillion dollars. Investor confidence, and confidence in U.S. markets specifically, was at its nadir.

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