The London Stock Exchange: A History

By Ranald C. Michie | Go to book overview
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13
Black Hole

RELATIONS WITH GOVERNMENT

On 3 March 2001 the London Stock Exchange, as a formally organized securities market, will have existed for two centuries. Instead of taking comfort from such longevity, in the face of enormous change and periodic crises, many of those viewing the Stock Exchange in the 1990s doubt whether it has much of a future. An American academic, J. J. Fishman, concluded in 1993, after an exhaustive study, that, 'The Stock Exchange is an organization that has lost its direction. Its very future has been called into question.'1 This was only echoing comments made by the Financial Times in 1989, and then repeated in 1994, 1996, and 1998. Such was the scale of the challenges facing securities markets world-wide by the 1990s that the role to be played by any and every stock exchange was being called into question, including that of London. One economist, R. O'Brien, even published a book in 1992 entitled, Global Financial Integration: The End of Geography, in which he speculated on the demise of specific physical boundaries to securities markets and their replacement with stateless electronic trading networks. He introduced his book by stating that

Stock Exchanges can no longer expect to monopolise trading in the shares of companies in their country or region, nor can trading be confined to specific cities or exchanges. Stock markets are now increasingly based on computer and telephone networks, not on trading-floors.2

Clearly these challenges were real ones coming both from governments and global economic forces. On the one hand national governments and central banks wanted to impose far greater control over securities markets, recognizing their importance in financial systems where the divisions between money and capital markets no longer existed. On the other hand the decline of national boundaries, with currency unions, global money and capital flows, and instantaneous international communications, created the need

____________________
1
J. J. Fishman, The Transformation of Threadneedle Street: The Deregulation and Regulation of Britain's Financial Services ( Durham, NC 199 3), 269; Financial Times (FT), 4 Oct. 1989, 17 June 1994, 4 July 1996, 14 May 1998.
2
R. O'Brien, Global Financial Integration: The End of Geography ( London 1992), 8, 23-4, 76, 97, 103.

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