The Perpetual Corporation

68 Pages Posted: 21 May 2012

Date Written: May, 21 2012


Courts and commentators take for granted that the ultimate objective of a business corporation is long-run profitability, not immediate profits. But a corporation is a creature of statute, so a statutory source for this rule must be found — or it is not really a rule. Yet prior literature has not identified any such legal basis, leaving a gap in corporate theory. This Article fills that gap by showing that the modern corporation is obliged to act with a long-term view because it has “perpetual existence” under the law. This Article then explains that because they must plan for a perpetual future, corporations should invest like immortal entities, namely with a long time horizon and low discount rate. This method of “immortal investing” offers a number of fundamental advantages to the corporation, and is also in the public interest, as immortal investors can be expected to highly value the future and act as stewards for natural resources and other assets.

Keywords: Corporation, entity, immortal, perpetual, long-term, environment, discount rate, time horizon

JEL Classification: K2, K22, O16, O40, D20, D21, D90, D99

Suggested Citation

Schwartz, Andrew A., The Perpetual Corporation (May, 21 2012). George Washington Law Review, Vol. 80, p. 764, 2012, U of Colorado Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-06, Available at SSRN:

Andrew A. Schwartz (Contact Author)

University of Colorado Law School ( email )

401 UCB
Boulder, CO 80309
United States

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