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While the wealth of the stock market exploded during the 1990s, the wealth of entrepreneurs fizzled. As the decade dawned, small firms held just over 59 percent of the $5.7 trillion in total value of U.S. businesses, according to a study by the SBA. By 2000, that share had fallen to 42 percent as soaring stock valuations more than doubled big public valuations during the decade.
A lot has changed since then, and one of the changes is a switch in the relative performance of small and big companies. The $11 trillion in big-company value seen in 2000 had slumped 25 percent to $8.3 trillion by the middle of 2002, the latest period for which figures are available. Meanwhile, small-company value had fallen just 4 percent, to $4.1 trillion. What happened? "Big companies have been hurt by the stock market. Most small companies are not public. That's why the small-business share rose the last couple of years," says Kathryn Kobe, chief economist at Joel Popkin and Co., the Washington, DC, research firm that conducted the SBA study.
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