The Highest Price Ever: The Great NYSE Seat Sale of 1928–1929 and Capacity Constraints
During the 1920s the New York Stock Exchange's position as the dominant American exchange was eroding. Costs to customers, measured as bid-ask spreads, spiked when surging inflows of orders collided with the constraint created by a fixed number of brokers. The NYSE's management proposed and the membership approved a 25 percent increase in the number of seats by issuing a quarter-seat dividend to all members. An event study reveals that the aggregate value of the NYSE rose in anticipation of improved competitiveness. These expectations were justified as bid-ask spreads became less sensitive to peak volume days.