August 16, 2001 Innovations in communications and information technology and the related globalization of financial markets have created the potential for important changes to the structure of Canadian equity markets. Established marketplaces can now compete more effectively on an inter-regional and international basis. At the same time, reduced costs have lowered the barriers to entry faced by new competitors known as alternative trading systems (ATSs). In response to this heightened competition, established Canadian stock exchanges have taken measures to improve market quality. While regulators see innovation as positive for the development of Canadian markets, there is some concern that market liquidity may be fragmented in the short run. The Canadian Securities Administrators have proposed a framework that attempts to address this issue and that would allow ATSs to compete with traditional exchanges for the first time. The authors provide an overview of the Canadian equity market and its structure, focusing on these recent developments.
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