THEY have seen the news clips of smoothly analytical brokers and
the frenzy of traders on the New York Stock Exchange floor.
They believe that the American stockbroker is "a well-trained
professional who thinks only about the stock exchange and has no
time for anything else."
"It is our dream to work like that," says Zhamal Dootayulu, one
of eight young Kyrgyz brokers lounging at their desks around the
otherwise empty floor of the Kyrgyz Stock Exchange.
This is probably the world's newest stock exchange, a key
building block in transforming this new country's formerly Soviet
economy into a functioning free market. It opened in May. Four
companies are listed. There is even a kind of simplified mutual
It isn't the Big Board in Manhattan, but when the average
Bishkek resident wants to buy or sell shares of one of these
companies, he or she can walk right onto the battered wooden
trading floor of the stock exchange and execute a deal, no matter
how humble. As many as 200 to 300 people at a time have crowded
into the former conference hall.
Volumes are not large. The biggest trading day in recent months
was 47,000 Kyrgyz soms in total volume - about $4,500. A slow
recent day traded 700 soms - $67.
But the action is getting bigger. Within a year, says Paul
Jones, a Price Waterhouse adviser to the exchange, the exchange
will have a senior board with about 30 companies listed and a
junior board with 30 to 50 companies. At that point, a substantial
portion of this new nation's economy in effect will be trading in
the open market. That market will have helped in raising needed
capital for those companies.
Kyrgyzstan became an independent country in 1991, after the
breakup of the Soviet Union. The government owned everything. Last
year, the government privatized about 600 formerly state-owned
companies. It gave coupons to Kyrgyzstan citizens - the number
adjusted for age and years of work - that could be redeemed
for???"=???/change. And they were just paper, for people who lacked
a way to eventually convert them to cash, he says.
The stock exchange was initially formed a year ago as a place to
trade coupons in an efficient, civilized way. Coupon-trading is
still the major business here.
Coupons brought private ownership to people, usually the
employees of former collectives. Some pay dividends. But they bring
no new cash to the enterprises. The next step was the stock market,
created by 11 initial investors who each bought a seat for $5,000