Michael Lewis: The Irresponsible Investor. The crux of the matter:
Of the roughly $19 trillion in American investment capital, in other words, $17 trillion or so is invested with the implicit instruction: ”Just give me back as much money as possible. Gouge consumers, cheat employees, poison the environment, lie to the public markets — just do it all sufficiently artfully that it doesn’t dent my portfolio.” Then, when the market falls and one of the people on the receiving end of their beastly demands is caught behaving badly, investors collapse to the floor in disbelief and bay for their money back. It is at that moment — and not a minute before — that they discover the novel idea that businessmen in possession of other people’s capital should be held to the highest ethical standards. But of course, now the idea pays.
For a long time I told people that in my dream world I would abolish the stock market because its main purpose was to eliminate the concept of personal responsibility for people who run businesses. Investors in mutual funds don’t even know which companies they invest in, so the only criteria for success in publicly owned companies is whether your stock helps investors make more money. I later decided that my solution wouldn’t really solve anything, but it is a mark of my frustration with corporate behavior.