One can imagine if more people were aware of Madoff's returns, and his purported assets under management, lots of people would have figured out it was a Ponzi scheme just as Markopolos did. More people would have learned about pairs trading in the 1990s via the fat returns, and this would have created more efficient trading exchanges faster (they were arbing the pre-internet retail flow).
The new JOBS act would rectify a good deal of this:
In its current form, the JOBS Act will allow private equity and hedge fund managers to solicit investors directly, rather than through third parties as per the current rule.
It only took 80 years to get rid of this dumb regulation.