The Public Corporation as an Intermediary between 'Main Street' and 'Wall Street'
Posted: 10 Aug 2015 Last revised: 12 Dec 2015
Date Written: October 1, 2015
In the perfect markets corporate finance theory (Modigliani-Miller), public corporations (firms) have no economic function. Their existence therefore cannot be justified. An unsettling implication is that the extant corporate finance theory applies to an economy in which firms are irrelevant. This research precludes this implication by identifying an economic function for firms in perfect markets. Specifically, I show that firms exist to intermediate between “Main Street” (the real sector that supplies non-financial inputs) and “Wall Street” (the financial sector that supplies cash), and that this intermediation maximizes an investment’s operating cash flows by minimizing the cost of the non-financial inputs. Key implications of this rationale for the firm include: i) an investment’s NPV depends on the firm’s cash holdings; working capital policy is thus an integral part of investment policy, ii) operating characteristics determine the firm’s minimum size (equity capitalization) and “boundaries,” and iii) cash on corporate balance sheets is a “fundamental” for stock-pricing.
Keywords: Public corporations, theory of the firm, corporate finance theory, Modigliani-Miller, corporate cash holdings, stock-price fundamentals, internal-financing
JEL Classification: G00, G30, G32, G12, G39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation