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Ferdinand Pecora, Senator Duncan Fletcher, and John Pierpont Morgan Jr., photograph, n.d.

Ferdinand Pecora (left) was counsel to the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency, which was chaired by Senator Duncan Fletcher of Florida (center). Banker John Pierpont Morgan Jr. (right) was one of the major Wall Street financiers called to testify. Fletcher succeeded Senator Peter Norbeck of South Dakota as chairman, but it was Pecora who became the investigation’s driving force.

Records of the U.S. Information Agency, National Archives and Records Administration

Ferdinand Pecora, Senator Duncan Fletcher, and John Pierpont Morgan Jr., photograph, n.d.

The Stock Market Crash

The 1929 New York stock market crash propelled an economic collapse that resulted in the Great Depression. To understand the cause of the financial crash, the Senate Committee on Banking and Currency investigated Wall Street banking and investment practices. Informally named after its astute and dynamic chief counsel, Ferdinand Pecora, the Pecora Committee exposed practices that, while legal, were judged unethical. Congress drew on the committee’s discoveries to restructure the banking and securities industries, approving the Banking Act in 1933 and the Securities Exchange Act in 1934.

[Financial lobbyists] are powerful, but they are not powerful enough to defy Congress. They are strong, but they are not strong enough to obstruct the Government. At least that is my hope.

Senator Duncan Fletcher of Florida, Speech to the Senate, May 7, 1934