Hurray! The Monrovia Stock Exchange Hits A New Milestone: Imagining the Possibilities

By Patrick Flomo

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia
October 24, 2007


At dawn, I woke up to an astonishing business newscast — the Monrovia Stock Market is as hot today as cayenne pepper. Today is Friday, October 21, 2025, and the stock market has reached an all-time high in the last ten years. The flurry of market activity is the result of a meeting this morning between the five regional banks’ chairman and the central bank president. They agreed to cut the interest rate by 75 basis points to 3.25 percent, from a high of 4 percentage points. The announcement has triggered a surge in market activity and buyers outnumber sellers by 5:2. Many market analysts are suggesting that with such profuse growth, the market is expected to close at a new record of 755 points. That will be the highest ever and will be a new milestone for the Liberian economy. This market exuberance is also a milestone in the overall history of Liberia when you take into account the last four decades of instability and civil strife.

The most active sectors of the market today have been the financial sector, commodities, and transportation. For the past two months, the market has been hemorrhaging to the point that investors were becoming jittery and confidence in the market was at an all-time low. To limit the frequency of volatility in the market, analysts have been urging a cut in the interest rate. Central Bank President Mrs. Mamie Massaquoi and President Hawa Zondo Duzon have held several meetings and press conferences to assure investors that the government is monitoring the market activity and is in a position to restore confidence in the stock market. On Friday, the Central Bank came through as anticipated by everyone. The rate cut issued on Friday morning immediately stopped the market from hemorrhaging further. Now investors are back in full swing as seen from the rise in market activity. Confidence is restored and business is back in full juggernaut motion.

Monrovia has come of age as the second financial hub in Africa, succeeding Johannesburg, South Africa. The numbers of banks and other financial institutions have quadrupled in the last ten years. The number of listings on the stock exchange is in the thousands. Monrovia, in the late 1960s, was known as the little New York of Africa. The barrage of economic activity and the higher standard of living has now given Monrovia a new nickname —the City that never sleeps.

How did this happen in less than four decades after 130 years of stability? Since the 1960s, the Liberian government has been the largest employer in the country. And to make matter worse, the new economic policies launched by President William V.S. Tubman in the mid-1950s consigned 95 percent of our domestic market activity to foreigners. This policy has continued to this day, and the consequences are the widespread economic perdition of the masses. The domestic market — from wholesale to retail sales — has been 95 percent controlled by foreigners ever since . The deleterious effect of this morbid domestic economic policy has for years subjected the masses to abject poverty and stymied the growth of a middle class Liberian society. This has relegated the country to two classes: the haves and have-nots — the most dangerous component of a free market society.

But this lamentable economic policy was turned on its head after the 2018 election.

During the past three decades, Liberia had been in the eye of a “Category 5 Hurricane.” But between 2006 and 2012, the Category 5 hurricane that had turned the country into a war zone downgraded to a mere tropical storm. By 2015, the storm had subsided and the rebuilding process had begun with serious economic reforms. Life began to return to normal as the winds of economic change began blowing from the U.S. across the Atlantic and from China across the Pacific.

The 2018 election was democratic, transparent, free and fair. It ushered in a new generation of Liberians who were fiscally conscious and determined to get rid of the morbid economic policy that had kept the majority in abject poverty and the country underdeveloped. This was a new generation of deficit hawks, balanced budget advocates, proponents of smaller government, free market economists, and strong believers in entrepreneurship.

Mrs. Hawa Zondo Duzon was elected president and her first cabinet nominee was the president of the Central Bank. This first nomination suggested that the economy would be the centerpiece of her administration. She appointed Ms. Mamie Massaquoi, the country’s most eminent economic wizard, as Central Bank president. The president considers the Central Bank as the most important institution and an economic combustion engine for economic and social transformation. The transition from “mat to mattress” is only feasible through job creation in the private sector and not the government, as had been the case for more than half a century. The appointment of Ms. Massaquoi clearly demonstrated the president’s determination to radically and structurally change the economic dynamics of the country.

The president’s economic pronouncement during her inaugural address was earth-shattering. She said that “75 percent of the retail sales market will be controlled by Liberians and in ten years, 100 percent of the retail sale businesses in the country will be controlled by Liberians.” She added that within the first hundred days in office, she planned to cut the number of ministries from the current 13 to six and slash government payroll by 35 percent. The pronouncement that earned her a 30-minute standing ovation was that “the government will guarantee small and medium size business loans ranging from US$50,000.00 to $250, 000.00 to all Liberian willing to start new business enterprises.”

The reverberation from these revelatory economic policy pronouncements by the president was felt in every corner of the country. The president’s speech excited the business community to the point that many decided to take advantage of the greatest opportunity since 1847. A new age of business exuberance was dawning throughout the entire nation.

The mounting tides of economic activities and the burst of business exuberance that engulfed the country seem to suggest that Liberia’s Gilded Age had arrived. The impact of this Gilded Age is seen everywhere. For example, the pockets of shanty towns with open sewage and cabbage dumps (from the proximity of the Executive Mansion to the Water Front, commonly refer to as Waterside) that once housed a large segment of the population all but disappeared from the face of the earth. Now, you find single-family homes with property values ranging from $50,000 to $150,000.00. A new middle class and intellectuals are on the rise. The flurry of economic activities are no longer concentrated only in Monrovia but have spread throughout the major cities. All major cities and towns are now connected to Monrovia by highways and electricity.

This is an economic miracle in every sense of the word. In fact the economy is so robust that the president received a new nickname: The Economic Messiah of Liberia. What created economic miracle was a success of the fundamentals: the president’s policies on consumption tax, tax abatement for small and medium-size businesses, small business Affirmative Action for Liberians, the return to the US$ (dollar) as the national currency, the free trade agreement with China, a continuously balanced budget, and the declaration of war on corruption. Ms. Mamie Massaquoi, the Central Bank president, enforced a monetary policy of keeping the lid on “inflation.” This has been the pepper and salt for sweating the profit margins for businesses, and the catalyst for the bullish market. In fact her monetary policy earned her the nickname of the Monetary Czar.

What a Wonderful Dream

© 2007 by The Perspective

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