Despite having the deepest and most diverse capital markets in the world, the United States still struggles to provide sufficient capital to many small businesses outside of major commercial centers as well as to women-owned and minority-owned businesses regardless of size or location. This paper reviews the academic literature and provides an analysis of some recent data to gain understanding of the causes of these gaps as well as the solutions for filling the gaps. Results indicate that the Small Business Administration’s SBIC program is an effective mechanism for providing capital to underserved geographies as well as to businesses owned by women and underrepresented minorities.
We contend that the decision between public and private ownership can be understood in a cost-benefit framework where firms trade-off the governance benefits of private ownership with the potentially lower capital costs of public ownership. Consequently, ownership structure can be understood by examining the governance model that maximizes firm value. We discuss the conditions under which firms maximally benefit from private ownership, and argue that the “governance engineering” by private equity sponsors can ultimately explain the continued rise of private markets to the detriment of public markets.