This paper shows that there is a close relation between corporate governance and the portfolios held by investors. Most firms in countries with poor investor protection are controlled by large shareholders, so that only a fraction of the shares issued by firms in these countries can be freely traded and held by portfolio investors. We show that the prevalence of closely-held firms in most countries helps explain why these countries exhibit a home bias in share holdings and why U.S. investors underweight foreign countries in their portfolios. We construct an estimate of the world portfolio of shares available to investors who are not controlling shareholders (the world float portfolio). The world float portfolio differs sharply from the world market portfolio. In regressions explaining the portfolio weights of U.S. investors, the world float portfolio has a positive significant coefficient but the world market portfolio has no additional explanatory power. This result holds when we control for country characteristics. An analysis of foreign investor holdings at the firm level for Sweden confirms the importance of the float portfolio as a determinant of these holdings.
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