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Retail Investors Thrown in the Deep End

by Michael W. Stocker
Eyes on Wall Street |
A frightening reminder of the downside to the new push to encourage retail investors to dive into complex, illiquid investments

The New York Times has just supplied a frightening reminder of the downside to the new push to encourage retail investors to dive into complex, illiquid investments. Until recently, regulators sought to limit the ability of mom-and-pop investors to invest in emerging private companies that promise high returns in exchange for staggering risk. In a February 11 article on retail enthusiasm for complex investments, the Times challenges the notion that the democratization of the markets is as much a boon for small investors as it is for entrepreneurs seeking easy capital. Unfortunately, this is precisely this philosophy that underlies many provisions in last year's JOBS Act. While the new rules will ease capital formation for many companies, they will also make it easier for many investors to make life-altering investment mistakes -- as has been repeatedly pointed out by the state regulators charged with protecting investors.