Swedes show Americans how markets should be run


 

There were important words indeed from Mats Odell, the Swedish minister for financial markets, in Dubai yesterday.

 

“Ownership is not important. What matters is the regulatory environment and we are the masters of that.”

 

The “we” to whom he referred were largely his fellow-members of  the Swedish Government, but I would like to think he also included Borse Dubai and Nasdaq.

Odell was speaking just ahead of the formal takeover of the Swedish stock exchange OMX by Dubai and Nasdaq, which takes place tomorrow, and which sets in train the plans to create a transcontinental stock market with centres in New York, Europe and the Gulf. It is a momentous development.

 

The Swedes are also putting in place the legislation necessary to regulate that whole complicated construction, and here Odell offered another pearl of wisdom.

 

“We will follow the UK example that no excessive regulations will be allowed. It will be principles-based regulation.”

 

That is also good news. There was a danger that, with the involvement of Nasdaq, some of those draconian American regulations imposed on Wall Street after the Enron scandal might find their way into the rule-books of the new set-up.

But it looks as though the Swedes see the danger in this, and are keen to adopt the rather more flexible approach of the London Stock Exchange.

 

Once the OMX deal is complete, we eagerly await details of how the link-up between Nasdaq and the Dubai International Financial Exchange will work. In particular, I wonder what influence the Americans will want to exert on the regulatory regime at DIFX?

 

The Dubai Financial Services Authority is there already, of course, with a regime that already adheres to international best practice, so I hope the Americans will resist the temptation to interfere too much. If the pressure gets too much, DFSA can always seek advice from the Swedes.


 

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