Which Investors to Protect? Evolving Conceptions of the American Shareholder, 1900-Present

Cambridge Handbook of Investor Protection (forthcoming 2022)

44 Pages Posted: 8 Jun 2021

Date Written: June 7, 2021

Abstract

A system of investor protection rests on a theory of which investors need protection. This chapter surveys the composition and perception of individual investors in American capital markets from 1900 to the present. The retail investor base has expanded remarkably during that time. Beyond the statistics, distinct “images” of the shareholder—that is, perceptions of the prototypical American investor—have dominated at different moments of U.S. securities law history. Although no one image will ever capture the full complexity of capital markets, I attempt to identify prevailing images in specific eras of securities regulation history, by examining comments by policymakers and industry participants. These images influence policy priorities and design.

Keywords: retail investors, shareholders, capital markets, investor protection, retirement savings, financial history, economic history

JEL Classification: N22, N32, K22, G50

Suggested Citation

Russell, Jacob, Which Investors to Protect? Evolving Conceptions of the American Shareholder, 1900-Present (June 7, 2021). Cambridge Handbook of Investor Protection (forthcoming 2022), Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3861999

Jacob Russell (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

Camden, NJ
United States

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