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Venezuela's Stock Market Gets a Failing Grade

It's not hard to understand why the Venezuelan stock market is facing the current supernova situation you mention ("Bye-bye bolsa?" Finance, Mar. 5). The people who hold the real economic power in this country have never believed in its advantages, while most Venezuelans don't even know what it is for.

On one hand, past governments have not been willing to place a portion of ownership in state-held companies in the bourse for capital democratization and to motivate private investment. On the other hand, the largest industrial conglomerates in the country, such as Grupo Polar and Cisneros Group, have notably avoided the stock market--preferring instead to pursue their financing through bonds and loans.

If the stock market does not allow the average citizen access to better investments and does not provide companies a good means to raise capital, then the question of the bourse's purpose is a good one. Not answering it could be a good reason for its closure.

Tomas Sancio

Baruta, Venezuela As an occasional user of eBay Germany, I think eBay CEO Meg Whitman is a little out of touch with reality when she talks about the global reach she is aiming at with eBay ("A talk with Meg Whitman," Information Technology, Mar. 19). The global scale of the site appears an arrogant claim to Europeans--because, for instance, it shuts down for maintenance when it's night on the U.S. West Coast (even though it's daytime in Europe) and it can't convert its fees from dollars to German marks.

Also, because of its global approach, the structure of the site is like a maze. Every time a change is made, the site becomes more complex and less self-explanatory. Any near-monopoly--and eBay has become one because of the number of visitors to its site--will eventually be shown the exit by innovative new entries to the market that cater more to local customers.

Claus Gossler

Wentorf, Germany So the plunging market, draining away the nation's wealth, is of no concern to the Fed ("Wake up, Wall Street: The Fed isn't all about you," American News, Mar. 19)? Trillions are gone, but trillions in debt remain. That should scare the Fed into giving nervous investors a psychological boost--and fast--with a big rate cut. Rich Miller's commentary gives the wrong advice. It's the Fed that needs to wake up!

Ed Kelly

Thomasville, Ga. Pete Engardio's excellent "Why the supply chain broke down" (American News, Mar. 19) highlighted a bad practice of investing in systems and consultants before developing a well-conceived strategy and robust processes for effectively using the expensive new tools.

Every decade or so, when these inventory recessions arise, mid-level operations people are the scapegoats, and senior management never addresses the root causes. When will we remember and learn how to balance supply and demand? The impacts on our work force, economy, and financial markets are horrendous.

Ken Stork

Batavia, Ill.

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