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Open Access. Powered by Scholars. Published by Universities.®

2011

Series

University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School

Corporations

Economic History

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Full-Text Articles in Law

The Marginalist Revolution In Corporate Finance: 1880-1965, Herbert J. Hovenkamp Jul 2011

The Marginalist Revolution In Corporate Finance: 1880-1965, Herbert J. Hovenkamp

All Faculty Scholarship

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries fundamental changes in economic thought revolutionized the theory of corporate finance, leading to changes in its legal regulation. The changes were massive, and this branch of financial analysis and law became virtually unrecognizable to those who had practiced it earlier. The source of this revision was the marginalist, or neoclassical, revolution in economic thought. The classical theory had seen corporate finance as an historical, relatively self-executing inquiry based on the classical theory of value and administered by common law courts. By contrast, neoclassical value theory was forward looking and as a result …