Abstract: Securities Exchanges as Nodes of an Expanding Neoliberal Network, 1945-1990

Julia Ott


This paper examines how, after World War II, both existing and newly established securities exchanges in non-communist nations became nodes in an expanding network for disseminating what we would recognize today as core precepts of the 'neoliberal' political-economic paradigm: 1) That investors and investment deserve highest priority in economic policy and corporate governance. Government and corporate policy must favor the formation and accumulation of capital because more investment means more productivity-enhancing technology, more product, lower prices, and more jobs—in summary, investment equals growth. 2) That financial markets and institutions pilot the investment process, directing capital to those best situated to use it and distributing risk to those best able to bear it. They also provide the source of genuine opportunity and security for individuals, in contrast to welfare capitalism or the welfare state. 3) That financial markets and institutions—like all markets and economic institutions—function best when privately administered, unencumbered by the regulatory state. At the center of this expanding international network stood the New York Stock Exchange. It provided other stock exchanges around the world with a wide range of materials and offered advice to expand share-ownership and to engage in political action.