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"NASDAQ: The fight of its life" (Cover Story, Aug. 11) sensationalized the facts to an extent that one could believe the NASDAQ might go the way of the dodo bird. Sure, the crash of high-tech stocks vastly reduced the demand for the typical NASDAQ stock, while competitors such as Instinet increased the amount of trading activity done away from the exchange. But newly appointed CEO Robert Greifeld recently responded with some dramatic steps, including a decision to shut down NASDAQ Europe. NASDAQ is going to focus all of its energies on winning new U.S. listings, and the fundamentals suggest that it may succeed.
However, the article underplays how the regulators have left intact blockades to NASDAQ's growth and have refused to budge from safeguarding "Rule 500," which restricts companies from delisting from the New York Stock Exchange for a listing on the NASDAQ.
Motivating regulators to change their rules is often an impossible task. But stories like yours may help the deregulatory crusade. If regulators notice that their actions create an environment where our nation's leading business magazine questions whether NASDAQ can continue to prosper, perhaps it's time for regulations to change.
Kevin A. Hasset
American Enterprise Institute
While we don't agree with all aspects of BusinessWeek's story, we commend the magazine's recognition of the benefits associated with NASDAQ's competitive market model. We are proud of this model because it allows us to provide lower spreads to our investors than any other market system (0.7 cents in Cisco Systems Inc. on NASDAQ vs. 1.4 cents in AT&T on NYSE), thereby resulting in more efficient, lower-cost trading.
NASDAQ itself faces and embraces healthy, competitive market forces: This is the very heart of capitalism and is what NASDAQ stands for. History has shown that competition greatly benefits the customer, resulting in better services, fair pricing, and sheer innovation. In NASDAQ's case, our ultimate customer is the investor.
Christopher A. Concannon
Executive Vice-President for
Strategy and Business Development
NASDAQ Stock Market Inc.
New York "Rethinking the drug business" (Editorials, Aug. 11) was right on target in saying that the right solution to concerns about the affordability of medicines is to bring "every American, especially the elderly, into a private or public health-care organization that can bargain for lower drug prices." The wrong solution is to allow the importation of medicines from Canada and other countries.
True, Americans are tired of paying more for medicines than patients in other countries where governments either set the prices or use the threat of denying citizens the best medicines to demand below-market prices. But legalizing the practice of importing medicines would add to the already growing threat of counterfeit and adulterated medicines coming into our country, and import government-set prices at the same time.
Price controls on American medicines -- whether imposed by U.S. elected officials or imported from abroad -- will erode the successful innovation model that has brought Americans the medicines that are lengthening and changing lives.
Americans with good drug coverage don't need to take a bus to Canada or buy medicines over the Internet. Coverage brings along the bargaining clout to reduce the cost of needed medicines. Merck supports Congress' actions to provide all seniors with access to drug coverage by passing the pending Medicare prescription drug legislation. That's the best way to provide access to safe medicines and maintain the incentives for pharmaceutical innovation.
Raymond V. Gilmartin
Chairman, President, and CEO
Merck & Co.
Whitehouse Station, N.J. Kudos to FedEx Corp. and United Parcel Service Inc. ("FedEx and Brown are going green," Environment, Aug. 11). This development couldn't have come at a better time for the Philippines, the world's largest coconut-oil-producing country, which has struggled for years to promote the use of "cocodiesel" (5% blend). Cocodiesel and other green fuels will become commercially viable only through similar initiatives, and only as more companies follow this bold move by FedEx and UPS.
By the way, FedEx and UPS have a large presence in metro Manila. Who knows? In the not-so-distant future, we could be seeing their delivery trucks purring along on cocodiesel.
Perla Limbaga Manapol
Banga, Aklan, Philippines One effective way to reduce the amount of spam is to levy a 1 cents tax on every e-mail sent ("Out, out, damned spam," Legal Affairs, Aug. 11). At 1 cents, the average user is not going to incur much of a charge. But the spam operators who is sending e-mails to millions of addresses will incur a punishing cost. In order to make the tax revenue neutral to the government, lower the telecommunications tax by an equal amount.