An Independent Bermuda?

Over nearly four centuries of benign British rule, tiny Bermuda has turned into the thriving home of $14 billion in mutual-fund assets and of insurers with $29 billion in capital. Now, this financial mecca may be facing a change in governance.

On Aug. 15, the British colony plans to vote on Premier John W. Swan's long-sought goal: independence. Bermuda's commercial Establishment, fearful that a shift in the colony's status might scare business away, is trying to reassure investors that independence would

not end its laissez-faire ways. Polls show that voters are strongly against independence.

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