The passages below were written by Carroll Quigley in a much-maligned and misinterpreted book published in 1966 about the period 1922-30, Tragedy and Hope. They could have easily been written in our post-Glass-Steagall era:
It [financial capitalism] invested capital not because it desired to increase the output of goods or services but because it desired to float issues (frequently excess issues) of securities on this productive basis. It built railroads in order to sell securities, not in order to transport goods; it constructed great steel corporations to sell securities, not in order to make steel, and so on. But, incidentally, it greatly increased the transport of goods, the output of steel, and the production of other goods. By the middle of the stage of financial capitalism, however, the organization of financial capitalism had evolved to a highly sophisticated level of security promotion and speculation which did not require any productive investment as a basis. Corporations were built upon corporations in the form of holding companies, so that securities were issued in huge quantities, bringing profitable fees and commissions to financial capitalists without any increase in economic production whatever. Indeed, these financial capitalists discovered that they could not only make killings out of the issuing of such securities, they could also make killings out of the bankruptcy of such corporations, through the fees and commissions of reorganization. A very pleasant cycle of flotation, bankruptcy, flotation, bankruptcy began to be practiced by these financial capitalists. The more excessive the flotation, the greater the profits, and the more imminent the bankruptcy. The more frequent the bankruptcy, the greater the profits of reorganization and the sooner the opportunity of another excessive flotation with its accompanying profits. This excessive stage reached its highest peak only in the United States. In Europe it was achieved only in isolated cases. (p336)
A few paragraphs later, he describes an obvious side-effect to corporate structure in an era where we need to raise huge amounts of concentrated capital to achieve large project:
The efforts of financiers to separate ownership from control were aided by the great capital demands of modern industry. Such demands for capital made necessary the corporation form of business organization. This inevitably brings together the capital owned by a large number of persons to create an enterprise controlled by a small number of persons. The financiers did all they could to make the former number as large as possible and the latter number as small as possible. The former was achieved by stock splitting, issuing securities of low par value, and by high-pressure security salesmanship. The latter was achieved by plural-voting stock, nonvoting stock, pyramiding of holding companies, election of directors by cooptation, and similar techniques. The result of this was that larger and larger aggregates of wealth fell into the control of smaller and smaller groups of men. (p337)
It stands to reason that such a structure should not be granted “personhood.” It’s an invitation to tyranny.