Eclipse of the Public Corporation or Eclipse of the Public Markets?

Eclipse of the Public Corporation or Eclipse of the Public Markets?

Craig Doidge, Kathleen Kahle, Andrew Karolyi, René Stulz

Series number :

Serial Number: 

Date posted :

January 22 2018

Last revised :

January 22 2018
SSRN Share


  • Listings • 
  • delistings • 
  • IPOs • 
  • intangible capital • 
  • Private Firms • 
  • Public Firms • 
  • private equity • 
  • payouts

Since reaching a peak in 1997, the number of listed firms in the U.S. has fallen in every year but one. During this same period, public firms have been net purchasers
of $3.6 trillion of equity (in 2015 dollars) rather than net issuers. The propensity to be listed is lower across all firm size groups, but more so among firms with less than 5,000 employees.

Relative to other countries, the U.S. now has abnormally few listed firms. Because markets have become unattractive to small firms, existing listed firms are larger and older. We argue that the importance of intangible investment has grown but that public markets are not well-suited for young, R&D-intensive companies. Since there is abundant capital available to such firms without going public, they have little incentive to do so until they reach the point in their lifecycle where they focus more on payouts than on raising capital.


Real name:
Craig Doidge
Real name:
Kathleen Kahle
University of Arizona
Real name:
Andrew Karolyi