KARACHI: Stock prices are plummeting. Investors are losing money, and fast.  Asia’s top-performing market in 2016 is no longer bullish.

Despite the bloodbath on Tuesday, which has now become a more usual occurrence, management at the Pakistan Stock Exchange (PSX) is calm.

“It is not PSX’s job to control volatility in the market and keep an eye on the ups and downs in stock prices,” PSX acting CEO Haroon Askari told The Banker Pakistan. “Risk management measures in place have remained intact and are working properly.”

With the largest one-day fall of 4.65% on Tuesday, the benchmark KSE 100-Index has so far lost over 9,000 points, or approximately 17%, in the last six weeks. It is now positioned at 44,121.

With political uncertainty keeping investors at bay, plummeting stock prices have some followers worried. While the index is far off from what it experienced in the 2008 crash – that eventually resulted in the government suspending trading at the stock market to halt the plunge in stock prices – broker defaults tend to become more common in a bearish market.

Askari said controlling volatility is not the management’s job, but managing risk through an effective system is.

“We don’t investigate the movement of prices unless manipulation is suspected. Controlling volatility is not our job.

“Our job is to keep checks on our risk management system – whether it is working properly or not. And the system in place has remained intact and is working properly,” he said.

“No broker has defaulted yet. The risk management system in place is meant to check such incidents which have not taken place so far,” he said.

“All clearings and settlements have been done as per usual and normal, and there is absolutely no issue with respect to risk management. The market in terms of transactional ability and clearing and settlement is stable,” he said.

Askari cleared that the market will not seek a bailout even in case the situation becomes worse.

“The market needs no bailout because trade deals are conducted on cash and not on borrowed money. There is not much leverage in the market,” he said.

He also clarified that there “is absolutely no chance of putting a floor at the PSX to stop further losses in an artificial way”.

“There is no such [floor] consideration at any level. We will not repeat history,” he said.

Askari’s reference is the 2008 crash when management at the then Karachi Stock Exchange fixed a floor to stop losses. The decision earned a bad name for the Pakistan stock market and resulted in the PSX being downgraded from MSCI’s Emerging Market.

Interestingly, the PSX has only recently been reclassified into MSCI Emerging Market again, with effect from July 1, 2017 after a gap of nine years.

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