Released to coincide with a seminar event at the Conservative Party Conference on 7 October 2009, this paper argues that while Governments and regulators invariably claim that regulations are introduced for the most laudable of reasons, regulations often have unforeseen and highly damaging consequences. This paper discusses some striking examples of this trend across a spectrum of business and social sectors, ranging from banking and finance to health and safety regulations.
Testament to the inability of non-executive directors to maintain a rigorous oversight over the activities of banks’ executive team is reflected in the mounting losses reported by those two ugly sisters of Scottish banking, RBS and HBOS. Cross-examined by the Treasury select committee earlier this year, it was clear that the non executive members of the board had failed to rein in their CEO’s meglomania. What is more, it was revealing to learn that neither the chairmen nor the CEOs of the two banks had any banking qualifications. Nor had Adam Applegarth, the CEO of Northern Trust, or Matt Ridley, the chairman, ever sat a banking exam. [Cont'd]
Adair Turner, the former McKinsey consultant who now heads the FSA, published his much-heralded regulatory response to the global banking crisis last week. By all accounts, Gordon Brown will use the report as the basis for his initiative to re-regulate the world’s banking markets at the G20 Summit due to be held in London next week. While the report includes some telling insights into the current credit crisis, described in the opening paragraph as “arguably the greatest crisis in the history of finance capitalism” it is fundamentally flawed in its approach to the daunting task ahead. The report sets out a raft of new initiatives: higher capital adequacy margins; closely monitored liquidity regulation; greater oversight of hedge funds; curbs on bankers’ bonuses; rating agency oversight; and what is referred to as “intrusive and systemic supervision”. Yet in truth what is needed is not so much a stack of new regulation, but a regulatory regime that enforces the existing rulebook while eliminating regulations that are either unnecessary or unenforceable. [Cont'd]
Perhaps one should be relieved to learn that regulators have failed to come up with any plans on how to use their new powers granted by the Regulatory Enforcement & Sanctions Act that came into force yesterday.
The Financial Times reports that BERR – the Dept for Business, Enterprise & Regulation – had received no plans yet from the 27 national regulators allowed additional powers under this new legislation. Originally intended to streamline business regulation across the board, the Act actually provides powers for regulators to impose hefty fines on those who do not conform to a raft of regulations. [Cont']
Ian Powell (pictured left), the newly appointed chairman of PWC, Britain’s largest accountancy practice, warns that our competitiveness is seriously damaged by a combination of increased regulation and uncertainty over taxes. Accountants are one of the main beneficiaries of excessive regulation – many businesses are obliged to employ them to advise on how to comply with the plethora of new regulations issued by national and EU authorities.
In the longer run, however, over regulation shackles GDP and, in turn, accountants’ fee income from audit and consultancy services. It is therefore highly significant that PWC’s chairman is saying enough is enough. Referring to the threats posed to the UK economy Powell observes, “The quantity and scope of regulation combined with the level of uncertainty and complexity in this country’s tax system are particular causes for concern”.
Meanwhile, yet another hedge fund - Krom River – announced it was relocating from London. In this case, the winner was Zug in Switzerland (pictured right). Mounting tax bills and Switzerland's more conducive regulatory regime, which was recently overhauled, were given as the principal reasons for the move. [Cont'd]
True to form, the BAA leviathan, which owns and operates seven airports in the UK, is predictably resisting the Competition Commission’s recommendation that it should be broken up, and an element of much needed competition finally injected into the monopoly it has enjoyed since the business was privatised in 1987.
Accusations of ‘flawed’ analysis and other jibes favoured by lobbyists are thrown at the Competition Commission’s 290 page report, but in truth, the Commission’s robust assessment highlights the company’s lacklustre vision with regard to planning capacity, its poor standards of service and its high-handed snubbing of its main customer base: the airlines.
Combined with a score of other criticisms this explains BAA’s abysmally poor position in the Airport Council International league table of airport operator performance. Indeed, perceptions of BAA have sunk so low that the company must win the duffer’s prize for the least favoured business currently operating in the UK.
BAA plc was created as a dominant monopoly by government. And it ranks as probably the foremost monopoly in Britain. No less than 91% of all passengers flying in and out of airports in the South East fly through one of the company’s three airports that encircle the capital, not to mention its 84% share of airport passengers in Scotland. [Cont'd]
Keith Boyfield picks up on the subject of regulation and how much the EU law is to blame for the significant legislation on British business. However, he explains why there is reason for optimism and how things could change for the better in terms of pulling back on excessive regulation.
There has been a wide range of support for a cut in regulation in the EU. It has a major impact on British citizens and Business. The question is how would we go about this deregulation? Keith Boyfield gives a step-by-step solution to this problem and argues that it will be a great thing for all involved with the EU.
Sale of the government's racehorse betting monopoly - the TOTE - cheap to a panel of racing interests would be a lucky windfall to wealthy owners but daylight robbery for the taxpayers who are supposed to own it, says Keith Boyfield. This ASI report led to a European Commission decision to block the government's cosy deal with the racing industry.