Regulation: Don’t push me!
Who’d be a regulator? David Tweedie, who was chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board for a decade right through the global financial crisis, knows more than most about the challenges involved.
Addressing an audience at an IOSCO event in Kuala Lumpur, Tweedie told the old joke of a Texas billionaire with a swimming pool full of alligators who offered his house, his money or the hand of his daughter to anyone courageous enough to swim across the pool. When a man plunged in and made it to the other side, the billionaire asked the man which of the prizes he wanted. “I want to find the guy who pushed me in,” he replied.
“As regulators,” Tweedie said, “we feel that way sometimes: pushed in.”
Tweedie’s was a characteristically eviscerating presentation, taking on everything from American accounting to rising inequality, to arguments with the French on international standards. “Now when I go to France I get treated like a king. And you know how the French treat their kings.”
But he reserved particular contempt for Australian border security. Recalling a trip to the country at the invitation of the government, he said he was stopped by an immigration officer who was “not an admirer of the Brits.”
After 10 minutes of interrogation, the officer asked Tweedie if he had a criminal record.
“I replied: ‘I didn’t realize I still needed one to get into Australia.’”