Chi-X demonstrates why governments should not protect monopolies

Yesterday, alternative share trading venue Chi-X announced the sale of its operations in Australia, Hong Kong and Japan, reportedly for about $570 million (for The Australian‘s coverage of the sale, see here). This serves as a reminded of the benefits of market reform and competition – and of the need to not let vested interests stand in the way of reform. I first advocated introducing competition to the ASX in share trading in a column in The Australian 2008 (available here). The ASX, of course, argued that allowing competition was “fraught with peril” and dressed up its arguments against allowing new competitors as somehow being in the public interest. I rejects those arguments in a further column (available here). However, the ASX continued the fight, as every day that a monopolist can stall a potential competitor’s entry is worth a lot of money. As a result, Chi-X had to wait over 3 before the Federal Treasurer awarded it a market license in 2011. None of the claims of Armageddon that the ASX made came true. Indeed, Chi-X’s entry has been very beneficial. Within a short period of time, Chi-X gained more than 10% market share. As a result of Chi-X’s entry, trades are executed much more efficiently and quickly and trading fees as lower. That Chi-X Australia was able to build up such a valuable business so quickly is further evidence of the outrageous rents that the ASX earned under its government-protected monopoly. Another reason why governments should avoid creating monopolies in the first place, as I have argued elsewhere (see here).

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