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Peru's trading floor came too late

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• A local, slice-of-life story from a Monitor correspondent.

Through the huge doors of a grand Spanish colonial-style building in historic downtown Lima, more than $40 million changes hands monthly on Peru’s sole stock exchange. Only one thing might seem strange to the casual visitor: The trading floor is always empty.

The 1930s-era building was gutted and redesigned in the early 1990s to house the Bolsa de Valores de Lima, a symbol of the many economic reforms that paved the way for Peru’s 8.8 percent economic growth in 2010. But the newly installed white-marble trading floor never saw a single trade. In 1996 the BVL began using an electronic trading platform called Elex, keeping the market’s 23 licensed brokerage firms in their offices and turning this building into something of a museum.

The transition was both bad and good.

“An important output of the transition was the savings in delays that usually stem from floor trading problems,” says economic analyst Hector Collantes of Lima-based Apoyo Consultoría. The transition also brought transparency and regulatory reforms to the BVL that put it on track to merge May 30 with the markets of Chile and Colombia, which also employ electronic trading systems.

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