Most listed firms are freestanding in the U.S, while listed firms in other countries often belong to business groups: lasting structures in which listed firms control other listed firms.
Hand-collected historical data illuminate how the present ownership structure of the United States arose: (1) Until the mid-20th century, US corporate ownership was unexceptional: large pyramidal groups dominated many industries; (2) About half of these resembled groups elsewhere today in being industrially diversified and family controlled; but the others were tightly focused and had widely held apex firms; (3) US business groups disappeared gradually, primarily in the 1940s, and by 1950 were largely gone; Their demise took place against growing concerns that they posed a threat to competition and even to society; (4) The data link the disappearance of business groups to reforms that targeted them explicitly ? the Public Utility Holding Company Act (1935) and rising inter-corporate dividend taxation (after 1935), or indirectly ? enhanced investor protection (after 1934), the Investment Company Act (1940) and escalating estate taxes. Banking reforms and rejuvenated antitrust enforcement may have indirectly contributed too. These reforms, sustained in a lasting anti-big business climate, promoted the dissolution of existing groups and discouraged the formation of new ones. Thus, a multi-pronged reform agenda, sustained by a supportive political climate, created an economy of freestanding firms.
This Article examines the large, steady, and continuing growth of the Big Three index fund managers—BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street Global Advisors. We show that there is a real prospect that index funds will continue to grow, and that...Read more
An emerging consensus in certain legal, business, and scholarly communities maintains that corporate managers are pressured unduly into chasing short-term gains at the expense of superior long-term prospects. The forces inducing managerial myopia...Read more
CEOs of public companies have influence over the political spending of their firms, which has been attracting significant attention since the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United. Furthermore, the policy views expressed by CEOs receive...Read more
This essay views The Modern Corporation and Private Property from the perspective of its junior coauthor, Gardiner Means. Means generated the book’s statistical showings of deepening corporate concentration and widening separation of ownership...Read more