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The Virtues of Private Securities Litigation: An Historic and Macroeconomic Perspective

70 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2014 Last revised: 27 May 2014

Steven A. Ramirez

Loyola University of Chicago School of Law

Date Written: April 18, 2014

Abstract

In the wake of the Great Depression, the federal securities laws operated to mandate disclosure of material facts to investors and extend broad private remedies to victims of securities fraudfeasors. The revelation of massive securities fraud underlying the Great Depression animated the federal securities laws as investment plunged after 1929 and failed to recover for years. For over sixty years after the enactment of the federal securities laws, no episode of massive securities fraud with significant macroeconomic harm occurred. The federal securities laws thereby operated to facilitate financial stability and prosperity, in addition to a superior allocation of capital. Unfortunately, as memories faded and inequality soared, corporate and financial elites (with the active aid of lawmakers) launched a sustained attack upon private enforcement of the securities laws. Soon thereafter the horrors of the Great Depression returned and massive securities fraud triggered the Great Recession of 2008 as economists would predict. This Article argues for a rollback of the war on private securities litigation to at least the 1980s based upon history and economic science. This would at least restore sensible pleading standards, impose liability on all participants in securities frauds (including aiders and abettors) and allow the states to impose more demanding standards of liability on wrongdoers in financial markets.

Keywords: securities fraud, securities litigation, financial stability, corporate governance

JEL Classification: A12, E32, G28, K22, L51, N12, N22

Suggested Citation

Ramirez, Steven A., The Virtues of Private Securities Litigation: An Historic and Macroeconomic Perspective (April 18, 2014). Loyola University Chicago Law Journal, Vol. 45, No. 3, 2014; Loyola University Chicago School of Law Research Paper No. 2014-04/18. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2426661

Steven A. Ramirez (Contact Author)

Loyola University of Chicago School of Law ( email )

25 E. Pearson
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

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