Fewer than half of the US population owns a single share of stock and even fewer Americans are in a position to start their own businesses. Nonetheless, at least in rhetoric this nation remains the land of the self-made man — and occasional woman. Many believe they still have the opportunity to be real entrepreneurs — by investing in corporate America through the stock market.
Stock markets provide all our citizens the chance to invest in those companies with promising products and technologies. Companies use capital from the markets and loans from banks to expand plants and innovate. Banks also act as an instrument to screen and evaluate new business opportunities. All of these contentions would hardly survive the usual scrutiny the media give to most economic matters, especially government programs. Why these myths persist is a vital political question.
The stock market today seldom raises capital for real investment. Our economy has become increasingly financialized with speculative activity generating a large share of total profits and also steering — and disrupting — the course of the productive economy.
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