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Insider trading in financial markets: legality, ethics, efficiency

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Scrutinises legal, ethical and efficiency standards for and against insider trading. The main arguments supporting insider trading are that it promotes economic efficiency and enterprise. The primary argument against insider trading is that it can be a breach of fiduciary duty; the other arguments of asymmetrical information, in-principle unequal access to information, and misappropriation seem relatively difficult to accept. On balance, it seems that insider trading may possibly be organised in firms so long as policies are transparent, shareholders accept the practice and certain measures are taken to reduce the incidence of free riders. However, the current state of knowledge on the subject makes it very difficult to come to unequivocal conclusions about whether aspects of it should be illegal or not. Much more theoretical and empirical work is needed on the ethical and social foundations of capitalism, insider trading in general, potential conflict of interest between innovators and shareholders, free riders, possible lack of confidence in the market, and in what ways illegality changes the behaviour of agents.
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Keywords: Efficiency; Ethics; Insider dealing; Legal matters; Stock markets

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 1, 2001

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