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Since 1995, more than 9,000 firms have delisted from U.S. stock markets, with almost half of these being involuntary. This paper examines the law and economics of the delisting process. We examine economic rationales for delisting, the legal rules that define it, and the causes of delisting. Using a sample of New York Stock Exchange firms delisted in 2002, we examine the effects of their delisting and subsequent trading on the Pink Sheets. We find huge costs to delisting, with percentage spreads tripling and volatility doubling but with volume being remarkably high. We also show that actual delisting times vary considerably, with some firms trading for months after failing the listing requirements. With exchanges transitioning to profit-seeking status, we argue that the current delisting process also needs to change, and we suggest properties of an optimal delisting rule and approaches to achieve it.

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