About Tokyo Stock Exchange Turbulence on CNBC and RedHerring

Wednesday January 18, 2006 I was interviewed live on CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange” news program about the turbulence on the Tokyo Stock Exchange following lower than expected quarterly earning reports by Intel, Yahoo and IBM, and a sell-off of Livedoor shares. Here is a summary of what I said in the interview:

Overall I am very optimistic for Japan’s economy, and I expect that the stock markets will recover soon.
There are short-term issues, mid-term issues and long-term issues.
Short-term, there is impact by Intel’s lower than expected results in the semiconductor sector, especially on Tokyo Electron, which shares also dropped substantially. However I think that the strong drop in share values on the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) was much more an effect of the Livedoor issues than disappointment with the US high-tech results.

The Livedoor issues are temporary and not significant for the bigger picture in Japan, and will be resolved very soon by the Police, Stock Exchange and the other relevant authorities. I don’t expect long-term impact. There may be some changes in rules concerning M&A.

Concerning the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE): the capacity of the TSE seems to be around 4 million transactions/day, and the Chairman of the TSE stopped trading when the transaction volume started coming close to this limit. This shows the IT limitations of the TSE. This would be less serious if it was an isolated incident, however during the last year there have been several IT related incidents, such as the incident where erroneously 600,000 shares were sold at a price of 1 YEN, instead of one single share for YEN 600,000, which caused huge losses, and was not caught by the trading software, and there have been a number of similar glitches recently. So clearly the IT infrastructure needs improvement. However, from what I have seen in Japan, I expect now a lot of serious committee work, and I expect that the IT systems will be fixed in due course – I am very confident about that.

So overall I think Japan will come stronger out of these temporary issues.

Regarding the question of human issues vs technology on the Stock Exchange, I think both human issues and IT are important and both must be working well.

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