15 May 2013

Shareholder democracy - U of Chicago version

Just read a thought provoking piece in yesterday's financial times (linked here - but requires subscription). The piece by Profs. Eric Posner and Glen Weyl of the University of Chicago is sure to outrage many, but like all Chicago school ideas like legalising insider trading, it is thought provoking.

In brief their views can be summarised in their own words as: "Shareholders have virtually no influence over the composition of boards of directors or even major transactions, such as mergers. The situation is dire and decades of reform efforts have failed to solve it. But new economic ideas offer promise for improvement.
Suppose that when an investor buys a share of a publicly listed company, he or she is given only the right to a share of profits, and not any right to vote. Instead, when a board election or transaction requires a vote, each shareholder would have the right to buy as many votes as they want. The catch is that they must pay for each vote, and the more votes they cast, the more that they pay per vote. More precisely, the price for voting is the square of the number of votes cast: the cost of casting one vote is one dollar, casting two votes is four dollars, three votes is nine dollars, and so on. The money spent on voting goes into the corporate treasury, and is thus ultimately distributed back to shareholders in the form of profits."

The full paper can be found at SSRN linked here. Thought for the day is that the paper is geared towards the US shareholding pattern - which is diffused. Would the arguments hold (even theoretically) in the Indian context where there is a dominant promoter shareholder?

1 comment:

Puneet said...

I am not able to understand the 'more votes they cast, the more they pay per vote' part. Please elaborate.