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Breakthrough growth for SMEs

In what was the expected uninspiring budget, considering the confines of what the Chancellor could work with, he managed to pluck a real plum that could have considerable long term benefits for the economy. Removing the stamp duty from transactions on AIM (The Alternative Investment Market run by the London Stock Exchange) listed securities.

Set up in 1995, AIM has had a stop start history, where in more profitable times, investors are attracted by the high risks and high rewards of good stock picking, against austere times, where risking money looks very irresponsible. The removal of the stamp duty will make the AIM market look a tad more attractive for investors. The spreads tend to be greater on AIM, to cover the various risks involved, not least liquidity. But could this be addressed to improve attractiveness to the investor?

Perhaps the Government could go further than it has already; by creating a Treasury backed Market Maker. Perhaps this could be in unison with the banks, to create a kind of backer of last resort. This might be a way to circumvent the dearth of bank lending to SMEs. By creating a vibrant liquid market that attracts investors and then in turn capital raising capabilities by the listed companies on AIM. This would almost be a return to capitalism in the traditional sense, bar the involvement of the consortium of the Treasury and the banks. Desperate situations require desperate measures, but in today's case a bit of imagination and cooperation might kick start AIM. And get SMEs growing, with investors making money, leaving the banks to concentrate on their own balance sheet problems. Of course the consortium market maker might make losses, but could also make money. Either way it's a win win for the Government and the economy.


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