The function of capital markets is to facilitate an exchange of funds among all participants, and yet in practice we find that certain participants are not on a par with others. Members of society have varying degrees of market strength in terms of information they bring to a transaction, as well as of purchasing power and creditworthiness, as defined by lenders.
For example, within minority communities, capital markets do not properly fulfill their functions; they do not provide access to the aggregate flow of funds in the United States. The financial system does not generate the credit or investment vehicles needed for underwriting economic development in minority areas. The problem underlying this dysfunction is found in a rationing mechanism affecting both the available alternatives for investment and the amount of financial resources. This creates a distributive mechanism penalizing members of minority groups because of their socioeconomic differences from others. The existing system expresses definite socially based investment preferences that result from the previous allocation of income and that influence the allocation of resources for the present and future. The system tends to increase the inequality of income distribution. And, in the United States economy, a greater inequality of income distribution leads to a greater concentration of capital in certain types of investments.
Most traditional financial-market analysis studies ignore financial markets' deficiencies in allocation because of analysts' inherent preferences for the simple model of perfect competition. Conventional financial analysis pays limited attention to issues of market structure and dynamics, relative costs of information, and problems of income distribution. Market participants are viewed as acting as entirely independent and homogeneous individuals with perfect foresight about capital-market behavior. Also, it is assumed that each individual in the community at large has the same access to the market and the same opportunity to transact and to express the preference appropriate to his or her individual interest. Moreover, it is assumed that transaction costs for various types of financial instruments (stocks, bonds, etc.) are equally known and equally divided among all community members.