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This paper argues that the key mechanisms protecting portfolio investors in public corporate securities are indirect. They do not rely on actions by the investors or by any private actor charged with looking after investors’ interests. Rather, they are provided by the ecosystem that investors (are legally forced to) inhabit, as a byproduct of the self-interested, mutually and legally constrained behavior of third parties without a mandate to help the investors such as speculators, activists, and plaintiff lawyers. This elucidates key rules, resolves the mandatory vs. enabling tension in corporate/securities law, and exposes the current system’s fragile reliance on trading.

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