As I continue researching the New Deal, and its implications for contemporary disclosures, I’ve come across yet another way today’s ICOs diverge from early IPOs anticipated by the founders of the 33 Act. Available data suggest that the issuers of the 1930s were in many respects very different from those in today’s ICOs market. Issuers in the 1930s and 40s were, almost uniformly, what today would be described as “real economy” companies. As between 1935 to 1949, 14% of IPOs involved food and beverage companies, 8% industrial machinery and 7.4% electronics. Meanwhile, from 1950-1959, 13.4% of companies were electronics, with oil and gas comprising 8.1% of the IPOs and chemicals 7.4%.
Consequently, many retail investors would almost surely have been at least intuitively familiar with some of the ventures backing the issuances. Many of the food and beverage companies were distilleries emerging from prohibition. Industrial machinery, meanwhile, touched upon heavy equipment, agricultural and smelter machinery, and the machines made popular on ever-popular assembly lines on which a growing number of the investing public worked. In many regards, most exotic issuers of the time were those involved in extractive industries, for which the SEC would in its early years hire staff to provide expert guidance in registration statement examinations. It’s a set of circumstances a good deal removed from today’s cryptomarkets.