NEWS
Ringing of the Bell
Jul 30, 2011
By Brigita Rumpeters
It was with great pleasure and honor that I participated in the NASDAQ stock exchange closing bell ceremony on July 22, 2011 with the Prime Minister of Latvia, Valdis Dombrovskis.  I was greeted by beautiful moving images of Latvia, both urban and pastoral, that were superimposed continuously on the semi-circular NASDAQ building in Times Square for the hundreds of thousands of New York City pedestrians to see.

Upon arrival to the NASDAQ I joined the Prime Minister and his distinguished guests in the NASDAQ closing bell taping room. Mr. Bruce Aust, NASDAQ's Executive Vice President, made the formal introduction. In his introductory speech Mr. Aust praised Valdis Dombrovskis for his exemplary leadership and decisive action during the Latvian economic crisis. Dombrovskis was able to prevent default by pushing through necessary structural measures and by negotiating favorable packages with both the IMF and EU, thereby stabilizing the economy and restoring international confidence. 

Mr. Aust also emphasized the vital role that the markets now play in Latvia's future development by highlighting the fact that Latvian companies such as SAF, Technika, Olainfarm and Grindex are now internationally traded on the NASDAQ stock market, which is also the prime stock market in Riga (Riga NASDAQ OMX). Mr. Dombrovskis pro-market policies have re-energized the markets and are paving the way for future growth.

Mr. Dombrovskis took the stage and graciously thanked his NASDAQ hosts for the opportunity to ring the closing bell. The Prime Minister provided some additional history and pointed out that the Latvian economy had suffered an incredible 25% drop in GDP when he had taken office, but due to the fiscal and structural measures that have been enacted industrial production is now up by 14% in 2011 and exports up by 41% in the 1st quarter of 2011. The Prime Minister emphasized that these two factors are the cornerstones to future Latvian economic growth. Mr. Dombrovskis finished by thanking NASDAQ for their key role in Latvia's economic structure, which not only includes the Riga stock market, but also serves as the securities depository and Treasuries auction.

After the Prime Minister's speech, all guests were invited to join the Prime Minister and Bruce Aust on the podium for the closing bell. After a dramatic countdown the Prime Minister pushed the bell to cheers and applause all around and the NASDAQ trading day was officially over. This ceremony was broadcast to millions of viewers on the CNBC, Fox Business, BNN and Bloomberg TV networks.  Mr. Aust then invited all outside to view photographs of the event superimposed on the NASDAQ building in Times Square. It was quite a sight to see oneself in such a setting! 

As a Latvian-American it was a proud moment to see Latvia extolled in such an international venue for its hard work in coming to grips with and solving its economic difficulties. It is no surprise that Latvia is often referred to as the model example of how to navigate a debt related economic crisis. We congratulate the Prime Minister on all of his achievements and wish him and the Latvian nation the greatest success in the future as well.

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