The collapse of stock markets around the world on Black Monday, Oct. 19, has had no significant impact on financial institutions' faith in the soundness of the emerging global trading system, a new survey of financial industry executives here and abroad suggests.
Commissioned by the accounting and consulting firm of Coopers & Lybrand, the survey was initially conducted this summer with 45 chief traders or capital markets officers. After the plunge, interviewers went back to 23 of the respondents and found them concerned, but by no means despondent.
"They have, on balance, come through the crisis with a sense of cautious optimism about the global 24-hour market of the future," says the report, which covered banks, securities houses, insurance companies and money management firms.
"Most of the executives interviewed view the 24-hour marketplace as neither more nor less risky for the world economy and their own organizations than they did before the crisis," it said.
Louis Harris and Associates conducted the poll. It covered 13 U.S. institutions, 15 in Europe and 17 in Japan.
Financial markets in recent years have become linked as never before, due primarily to low-cost telecommunications and the removal of barriers to cross-border capital flows. Some analysts already think in terms of a single "global" market, in which trading by the world community goes on 24 hours a day by satellite link.
Integration of markets has traditionally been praised for increasing investors' flexibility and making it easier to match up buyer and seller.
But some analysts have wondered if the minute-to-minute linkage heightens the chance of a chain-reaction crash that would bring world's markets down together.
Black Monday provided the first real test with its 508-point drop in the Dow Jones industrial average.
News of motion in foreign markets spreads quickly these days through radio, television and electronic quotation services services.
Those taking part in the post-collapse survey were almost unanimous (22 out of 23) in agreeing that "news from other financial markets around the world" affected financial markets in their country "to a great extent."
Twenty-one of the 23 post-collapse respondents in the survey termed the October events at least a "somewhat serious problem," with only nine calling it a "very serious problem."
But on the whole, executives said the Oct. 19 experience had not made them leery of stability.
Fifteen of the 23 respondents said they now see the 24-hour market place as "about as risky for the world economy" as they did before the crash. Only six saw it as being more risky; two saw it as less risky.
Nineteen of those surveyed rejected the supposition -- 15 of them "strongly" -- that "the global 24-hour market will allow so little margin of error in either human judgment or systems that one mistake could cause a worldwide financial disaster." Three, however, agreed with that statement to some degree.
They generally agreed, though by a lesser margin, that the global market would "benefit everyone in the financial industry by smoothing price fluctuations and eliminating some of the irrationalities of the present market that are due to time lags."
They were divided on the effect the crash will have on further development of a global market.
Eight of them saw it speeding things up, six saw it slowing things down and seven saw no effect either way.
Most said their firms were able to handle the torrential volume of orders during the crisis.
Slightly more than half, however, suggested that the experience was likely to speed installation of equipment to deal with massive trading volume.
In general there was agreement that the plunge will speed international cooperation aimed at policing the market.
Twenty-one predicted greater international regulation of trading, 19 saw greater cooperation for clearance and settlement procedures and 15 saw greater cooperation among financial services organizations. Only five predicted that the crisis would heighten prospects for international tax treaties and agreements, however.
Opinions that were taken before the crash underlined the development of globalization up to this point. More than one-third of the organizations reported that more than 20 percent of their portfolio was in nondomestic securities.
That trend was more pronounced with Japanese and European firms that were included, with only one in 13 U.S. institutions reporting that level.
More than half the organizations said their worldwide trading strategies are controlled from headquarters, in some cases on a transaction-by-transaction basis.
Despite all the resources firms have put into global trading, those surveyed tended to say that it is not particularly profitable, except for equity securities.
Yet no one feels he can turn his back on global trading, lest he lose customers. Most agreed with the statement that "no internationally active financial organization of our stature can afford not to get involved in the emerging 24-hours marketplace."
Communications still have a way to go, the survey showed. Few of the surveyed institutions had internal systems that were integrated and compatible on a worldwide basis.
Only one in 10 said that international trades are recorded instantly at headquarters, though three in 10 predicted they would be in two years.