Here's Why It's So Hard to Fix the Corporate Bond Market


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The corporate bond market is huge and important, allowing U.S. companies to tap investors for much needed borrowing. But even as sales of bonds have been booming in recent years thanks to low interest rates, the overall structure of the credit market and the way such debt is traded has been criticized for years. While stocks trade electronically on exchanges that provide instant and competitive quotes, a majority of corporate bond trades are still done over the phone or on platforms that tend to favor certain participants over others. Despite many efforts to improve ease of trading and price transparency in this vital market, progress has been slow.

On this episode, we speak with Larry Harris of the USC Marshall School of Business and a former Chief Economist at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, where he helped push through major stock market reform known as Reg NMS, about why the corporate bond market has been so resistant to substantial change. Harris was also part of the SEC's most recent effort to improve corporate bond trading -- the Fixed Income Market Structure Advisory Committee (FIMSAC) created in 2018. He explains why it hasn't had much success in changing the market.

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