The United States Supreme Court this morning by a 7-1 vote may well have written the final chapter of the late '90s dot-com stock-bubble debacle.
In a reversing a lower court ruling, the court decided that investors who lost their shirts on the downside of that roller-coaster ride cannot sue the Wall Street banks they say manipulated IPO markets.
From the Associated Press:
The outcome of the antitrust case was vital to Wall Street because damages in antitrust cases are tripled, in contrast to penalties under the securities laws.
The question was whether conduct that is the focus of extensive federal regulation under securities laws is immune from liability under federal antitrust laws.
An antitrust action raises "a substantial risk of injury to the securities market," Justice Stephen Breyer wrote. He said there is "a serious conflict" between applying antitrust law to the case and proper enforcement of the securities law.
In other words, the justices aren't saying that the investment banks didn't do what investors allege they did, but rather risks of letting that matter be adjudicated are too great to tolerate.
Must be nice being an investment banker.