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Missed Opportunity in Quasi-Monopoly

So, NYSE Euronext and Deutsche Boerse agreed to terminate their agreement to merge, thanks to the European Commission's prohibition of it.

Competition would be unduly reduced, it said, by allowing them to merge their two derivatives markets. They would then control more than 90% of the market, by its definition.

History says: Give it to 'em. Just consult the Factbook. In 2001, the New York Stock Exchange handled 82.5% of consolidated tape volume in the United States.

Today? Its share of trading in NYSE-listed securities is down to 20.6%. Its share of trading on all tapes? That's 11.8%.

Beating it out is the Nasdaq Stock Market, started more than 25 years ago as an all-electronic rival. And, NYSE Arca, the stalwart exchange that was the standard bearer among the electronic communications networks nurtured by Reg ATS in 1998.

Coming up not far behind are the two national exchanges operated by BATS Global Markets and the two operated by Direct Edge.

In Europe, BATS is again making its presence felt. BATS Chi-X Europe handles 25.9% of pan-European equities trading, besting the London Stock Exchange, the Frankfurt Exchange (DB) and NYSE Euronext.

BATS also is spurring competition in clearing, agreeing to connect to four different clearers.

And BATS has already signaled that it is "considering" entering the derivatives market in Europe.

Technology will bring competition. Multiple central clearing parties. Multiple swap execution facilities. Interoperability of central securities depositories.

Entrepreneurs will launch exchanges that coordinate the trading, at the same time, of stocks, bonds, currencies, gold and other types of assets. Guys and gals in garages will be heard from. Forget Facebook. Securities trading is a real-time market where the wealth not just of nations, but of millions of individuals are determined, worldwide.

Monopolies tend to be slow to move and react. Big organizations can be cut down to size, as the last 10 years in the trading of securities in the United States has shown.

Says here: Give 'em the monopoly. Encourage alternatives.

Then, stand back and watch what smart management of the electron will wreak, over the next 10 years.