Jamaica Social Stock Exchange launched

Prime Minister Andrew Holness launches the JSSE while being watched by representatives from the first organisation to be listed. (Photo: Karl Mclarty)

(Jamaica Observer) The Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE), the world’s number one performing stock exchange, launched the Jamaica Social Stock Exchange (JSSE) as a move to address social inequity at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday night.

“We believe we must play a role in this value chain,” said Marlene Street Forrest, managing director of the JSE, in her opening remarks. The initiative would represent a move out of obscurity while attracting international investment, she said.

The JSSE is being pioneered not just as a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity of the JSE, which it is initially, but to also promote Social Capital Market, according to the JSE.

“It will engage the financial sector and the entire economy of the country towards a greater good, which encompasses sustainable development with people at the centre, growing the social economy, which is now approximately 3.5 per cent of Jamaica’s US$17 billion economy, largely comprising “Not for Profits” or NGOs.” the JSE says on its corporate website.

Prime Minster Andrew Holness officially launched the JSSE and greeted representatives from four of the first organisations to be listed — Choose Life International, Alpha School of Music, Deaf Can Coffee, Agency for Inner-city Renewal (AIR) and Praise Jamaica.

The event was standing room only, even with extra chairs being brought into the Pegasus ballroom, with no space at the hotel parking lot, and participants seeking parking at the neighbouring Courtleigh Hotel.  The JSE celebrates its 50th anniversary on February 2, and several events are planned, Street Forrest said. Main sponsors for the conference were Jeffries and NCB.

 “Our wish is for the JSE to not only be the number one performing stock market, but the place to which the world turns for wealth creation,” Street Forrest said in her welcome message.

“We also want to see the strengthening of our regional alliance, which will be continued with the region’s exchanges and regulators,” she said.

Gregory Fisher, managing director and head of emerging markets from lead sponsor Jeffries, in his speech on “Disruption in the global financial markets: opportunities and threats for emerging markets” spoke about both the US stock market and the Jamaican economy.

On the US he said that despite the “December massacre” on the stock market, he was not predicting a recession, although “you are going to see a slow down.”

He noted that monetary policies are tougher now than they were in 2016, and that 2019 is the beginning of a predictable cycle.

he said the Fed is likely to cut rates, and that the future bodes well for fixed income markets.

On Jamaica he said the news was good, noting that unemployment is down, growth is up and “Jamaica is on an upward trajectory.”

“All the austerity this country has gone through are lessons learned,” Fisher said.

He said that in 2018 Jamaica outperformed the international benchmark as assets didn’t go down sharply unlike much of the rest of the world.

“Jamaica’s credit has continued to improve,” he said, noting that a 2019 upgrade is likely according to the rating agencies.

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