How Does the Securities Act of 1933 Work?

How Does the Securities Act of 1933 Work?

The Securities Act of 1933 protects investors after the 1929 stock market crash. It ensures transparency in financial statements and combats fraud in securities markets. Enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission.


In response to the 1929 stock market crash, the Securities Act of 1933 was implemented to safeguard investors by ensuring transparency in financial statements and combating fraud in securities markets. Its two primary objectives were to enhance transparency in financial statements for informed investment decisions and to implement laws to combat misrepresentation and fraud in securities markets.

The Securities Act's primary benefit was introducing disclosure requirements for new securities issues. Before its passage, companies selling stocks or bonds could promise substantial profits without disclosing essential information about their businesses.

A Brief History of the Securities Act of 1933

Establishing uniform rules to protect investors from fraud, the Securities Act of 1933 was the first federal legislation to regulate the stock market. It was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of the New Deal. The act falls under the governance of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), established in 1934. Over the years, it has undergone amendments to update rules, with the latest one enacted in 2018. Public securities offerings in the United States are registered on EDGAR, an electronic database provided by the SEC.

Company Disclosure Requirements

The first major law regulating securities sales was the Securities Act of 1933. Companies must register with the SEC and provide relevant information to potential investors through a prospectus and registration statement. Before this act, securities sales were primarily governed by state laws.

To ensure transparency and accessibility of information for investors, the legislation requires companies to disclose financial information to investors before offering securities for public sale. This law is known by various names such as the "Truth in Securities" law and the Federal Securities Act.

Prospectus Requirements

Currently, the SEC website provides the required prospectus, which contains essential information:

  1. Description of the company's properties and business.
  2. Description of the offered security.
  3. Information about executive management.
  4. Financial statements are certified by independent accountants.

Objectives of the Securities Act of 1933

The Securities Act of 1933, signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his New Deal, has two main objectives:

  1. Exempt certain securities offerings from the registration requirement:
    • Intrastate offerings
    • Offerings of limited size
    • Securities issued by municipal, state, and federal governments
    • Private offerings to a limited number of persons or institutions
  2. Prohibit deceit and misrepresentations during securities sales to eliminate fraud.


The securities industry regulation began with the Securities Act of 1933, which was the first federal law to enforce it. It mandates companies selling stocks or bonds to the public to disclose specific information, including assets, financial health, executives, and a description of the security being sold. Today, it is one of several laws governing securities offerings in the United States.

Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC)
Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval (EDGAR)
The Securities Act of 1933
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