Healthy Capital Markets Are Key to Small Business Growth
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By Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
There's growing recognition that America's capital markets are no longer the most attractive place on earth in which to invest. Three major reports have been released in the last six months examining the challenges facing our markets and what needs to be done to strengthen them (see "Washington Updates" to learn more about the Chamber's commission on capital markets).
All three reports reached similar conclusions. Markets outside the United States are becoming deeper, quicker, and more competitive. Advanced technologies are making it easier to conduct cost-effective financial transactions almost anywhere in the world. At the same time, the United States is stuck with legal and regulatory regimes developed in the 1930s, a time closer to the Civil War than to today.
The predictable result? U.S. capital markets are experiencing a steady decline in their share of global activity. They are increasingly being viewed by both domestic and foreign firms as a more dangerous and complicated place to do business.
Why is that important to small businesses and, indeed, the country? For starters, the nation's 57 million investors rely on the success of our capital markets to build better lives and grow a nest egg for retirement. Our nation's 25 million small businesses rely on the success of our capital markets to help them start, nurture, and grow their companies. Mid-cap and large firms rely on the success of our markets to help them expand, improve productivity, and create jobs.
In short, capital markets are the greatest means of wealth creation known to man. They are critical to the economic success of our nation and to each of its citizens.
So with our markets under threat, we think the time for studying and talking is over. It's time to act. What's been missing from this debate is a dedicated vehicle whose sole mission is to advance reforms. Tomorrow the Chamber will launch such a vehicle ' the Center for Capital Markets Competitiveness.
The Center will advance a legislative, regulatory, and legal agenda designed to strengthen the competitiveness of U.S. capital markets. It will begin by aggressively implementing the most important and widely-supported recommendations from all three major reports. It will work with all those who understand that driving action on these issues is critical to every business, from the corner bakery in Dubuque to the most sophisticated firm on Wall Street.
Different stakeholders will have different ideas on how to improve our capital markets, but we should be united in our goal to make our markets the most fair, efficient, transparent, and attractive in the world. Our economic success depends on it.