Business: Where the Big Blocks Are

Way back in 1932, Adolf A. Berle and Gardiner C. Means showed in The Modern Corporation and Private Property that one can control a corporation by controlling even a minority of its shares. Hence it is no surprise that today's institutional investors—bank trust departments, pension funds, insurance companies and the like—exert great influence over companies and securities markets. Just how concentrated, however, is such influence? In 1975 Congress ordered the SEC and other regulatory bodies to supply it with new information on who owns what. Armies of lawyers descended upon the capital,...

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