25 Years of Business Dodging the Courts: Happy Anniversary, Folks

It’s happy 25th anniversary to somebody today, but not to you if you’re an investor, a consumer, or an employee who toils outside of the executive suite. On June 8, 1987, the Supreme Court said it was OK for brokerage firms to require customers to give up their rights to court in the event that a broker ripped them off. Instead of open court with public records and annoying reporters who could chronicle the sordid details of abuse of the little guy, investors since then have been stuck in “mandatory arbitration” that’s run by — guess who? — the brokerage industry. It was all such a good idea to keep corporate secrets out of public view that, since then, companies even outside of Wall Street have figured out ways to keep everything from sexual harassment cases to minor consumer disputes out of court, too. So raise a glass if you work at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. If you don’t rub shoulders with the privileged class, though, you might want to read the column I wrote for Bloomberg View on the sorry state of things for the public since the Supreme Court ruled in the case known as Shearson v. McMahon: Read article

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