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WFE Focus February 2011
The invisible hand of the market
Peter Clifford
Deputy Secretary General,

This month has witnessed big changes in the world.

Across North Africa and into Middle East, popular demonstrations - sparked in part by higher commodity prices  - led to political instability and the fall of governments. 
These movements recall a similar period in Eastern Europe over 20 years ago.  Then as now,  in the countries that are experiencing turmoil today, predictions of how change would occur were hard to make,  and in retrospect often wrong.

Last year, when the WFE set about writing a book about the major changes in the financial markets over the past 50 years, there were the usual list of topics to cover : the move from floor-based trading to electronic trading, exchange consolidation, and new regulation to name but a few.  But one of the biggest changes to the markets , to the global economy,  and to the world was a direct result of the courageous uprisings from the time of the fall of Berlin Wall.

This edition of Focus features the insights of Wieslaw Rozlucki on that journey from central planning to central markets that took place. 

As the invisible hand of the market replaced the hand of government planners, the leader of the Warsaw Stock Exchange led a transition in the Polish markets that surpassed all expectations.  As he once recalled at a WFE meeting, there was basically one problem to overcome at the start: How to list companies that were not profitable for investors who had no money! 

Last year, the Warsaw Stock Exchange led all of Europe in the number of new companies raising capital on the exchange.

Everyone must hope that the transition that is taking place in countries today will result in improvements to the lives of its citizens, and a new start for their economic opportunities.  And that the invisible hand of the market will be a positive force and help to unlock the potential for a better life.

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