This is a difficult time for democracy, with the rise of autocratic leaders. I refer, of course, to shareholder democracy and the increasingly bold attempts of Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs, when they go public, to prevent investors from having a say in the running of companies. In a first for an initial public offering in the US, the founders of Snap, the owner of the messaging service Snapchat, are brazenly selling second-class shares that give investors no votes at all over governance. And while some pension funds have written a stiff letter of complaint, it is not obvious that this will have much of an effect on the success or otherwise of the IPO.Should it? What, after all, is the value of a vote? It is only when things have come off the rails that the ability to elect directors and put pressure on executives becomes invaluable. Voting rights are insurance, and pricing the risk of management frailty or fraud is not like predicting hurricanes or floods. Looking at data over the...

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