This is the fourth article in a series about Post-Modern Security Analysis.

The analysis of corporate governance

The term “corporate governance” came into vogue in the 1990s and now dominates discussion of ethics and morality in investment markets.

For five essays on “corporate governance” on this site, go here.
Stakeholders have different interests

Often, the pretense of “good corporate governance” has served to shield ethically-challenged management from critical scrutiny by ordinary investors — an exercise in hypocrisy.

However, the corporate governance movement has come up with one important concept: stakeholders. The view that a corporation has many different “stakeholders”, with different interests, is essential to Post-Modern Security Analysis.

Management still talk about “looking out for shareholder interests”, but the influence of other stakeholders can hardly be ignored, especially the stakes of various governments, labor unions, franchise owners, administrators of off-balance sheet assets, license holders, creditors, employees, trading counter-parties, out-sourced suppliers, down-stream customers, banks, and, last but not least, management itself.

The analysis of corporate governance and of the relative importance of various stakeholders should be the first step in Post Modern Security Analysis.

Determining the relative importance of various stakeholders

Investment securities are a combination of contractual agreements and legal requirements merged with expectations of customary behavior. Normal and reasonable expectations of the benefits and risks of a specific investment opportunity vary among the stakeholders in each case.

Corporate governance is a "can of worms"

For example, fifty years ago, common stockholders expected that most profits would be distributed to them in the form of dividends and that hired management would be content to provide faithful service for a fixed salary and occasional modest bonus.

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