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Well-functioning securities markets are critical to the stability of the U.S. financial system, yet they are changing rapidly. Both securities markets and investors have new complexions, adding to the conventional picture of domestic public trading. For example, an increasing number of transactions today are private. Worldwide, private investment grew more than 250% between 2010 and 2019 before dipping with the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the United States, Regulation D offerings roughly doubled in the decade from 1997 to 2017. Simultaneously, cross-border asset holdings have risen: between 2012 and 2021, American holdings of foreign securities have increased by about 100%, while foreign holdings of American securities have increased by about 125%. New investment strategies have gained popularity, too. Capital increasingly flows through institutions—which, in the United States, in 2019 held assets equal to 291.3% of U.S. GDP, up from 249.3% of GDP in 2012—and into passive investment vehicles. Now, passive investment strategies tracking various indices of market or industry performance and traditional active management strategies each direct about 15 trillion in assets. Both retail and environmental, social, and governance investing, though heretofore less successful in generating investment, have made notable strides of late, as well.
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