WALL STREET: Tightening the Rules

FOR years, the largely self-regulated stock-trading business has nurtured practices and procedures that have seemed increasingly inadequate to the needs of the growing army of U.S. investors. After the recent recession caused more than a hundred brokerage firms to merge or go under, a clamor arose for tighter Government regulation. Last week the Securities and Exchange Commission unbundled a set of proposals that could drastically alter exchange operations and the way that stocks are traded.

Most significant for the individual investor is a recommendation that all the national and regional U.S. exchanges be tied together electronically to form, in effect, a...

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