Pakistan is busily putting down riots at its stock exchange. After leading the world over the past decade, soaring by almost a factor of 10, it has dropped 35% since April, and traded down 15 of the last 18 days.
As usual, people got a sense that markets would always go up, and when they found out otherwise they reacted like kids who had their Wall-E toy taken away. They smashed stuff, shouted, and generally demanded the government do something about it. Aiding and abetting things, of course, have been Pakistani regulators, with a rule (until recently) that equities could never go down more than 1% a day. (Sound familiar?)
Check this (Reuters) picture of investors smashing through a door at the Karachi exchange, and then the following color from Bloomberg:
In Karachi investors today broke windows, threw plant holders in the parking lot of the building, burned shareholder statements and at least one protester was injured, prompting intervention by police and the paramilitary. Investors were also protesting outside the Lahore and Islamabad stock exchanges, Geo Television reported.
"We demand that all stock prices be frozen at current levels,'' said Kauser Javed, who heads the Small Investors Association. "People have sold their assets in the last 15 days to meet payments and if things continue this way, you will start hearing of suicides. The regulators always favor big brokers and investors.''
With potted plants flying outside the Karachi bourse after this stock crash, it reminds of a favorite adage: Trading stocks is fun, until someone loses an eye.