Bunhill: Mongolia grabs a share of the action

OUTER MONGOLIA. Home to a couple of million sheep-herding nomads roaming across a country four times the size of France, and once the seat of Ghengis Khan's terrifying empire. An unlikely place for a financial market, you would have thought.

But with half an eye open as you cross the main square in Ulan Bator, you might just notice a shabby sign marking the dilapidated entrance to the Mongolian stock exchange.

Set up with money from the Asian Development Bank and with two Harvard professors training its young brokers, the market opened in February. As yet, it trades only twice a week in 40 quoted companies. But enthusiasm abounds: no fewer than 470 state companies are due to be privatised, and every one of the population is supposed to have been given coupons worth 6,000 to 7,000 tugriks (dollars 175 at the official rate, dollars 35 on the black market) with which to buy stock. In reality, few have received them. Not surprising when you consider that the average family 'moves tent' 10 times a year.

Once invested, the coupons cannot be traded for another holding. Best then to put the coupon where it will do well - with the Mongolian Vodka Company, easily the most valuable stock so far.

There are 29 brokers trading, but only seven are based in Ulan Bator. The rest are spread around the country's 18 regions, with hundreds of kilometres of uninhabited steppe, mountain and desert between them and the city.

Somehow, orders make their way through the drooping telephone lines that criss-cross the land. Settlement is by post. Neither system could be described as reliable, but ambitious plans are afoot in Mongolia to get all the brokerages computerised and permanently linked by modem and phone lines. However, quite how many of the country's 'arats', or herdspeople, will switch their minds from storing dried yak curd for the winter to watching share price movements remains to be seen.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Digital Optimisation Executive - Marketing

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's fastest growing, multi...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Reporting Manager

£70000 - £90000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Financial Reporting Manager i...

Recruitment Genius: Payments Operations Assistant

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

£13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific