The Ignorance Of The Regulator
April 10, 2011 6 Comments
The following is a (paraphrased, rather than literal, to clarify meaning where in reality it was merely implied) email exchange between me, and some internal flunky who has to deal with The Regulator.
Flunky: Hi. Going forward, The Regulator wants details and documents for any Whatchamacallit Trades. I don’t know what that means at all, but please comply, preferably by just obediently adding something time-consuming to the zillion things you already do daily, weekly, and monthly, with minimal interference or guidance from me, so that I don’t actually have to do or think about anything. Thanks.
Me: Okay. Which documents exactly? And do Whatsit Trades count as Whatchamacallit Trades too, or are they only interested in purely Whatchamacallit Trades? These definitions aren’t always clear.
Flunky: …. Let me check.
Flunky: So how are we coming with those documents?
Me: Wait. Has my question been clarified? I still need to know exactly what the Regulator wants and what he doesn’t.
Flunky: Like I said they want all “Whatchamallit docs”. I Ctrl-C’ed a direct quote because again, I don’t have the faintest idea what any of these terms mean. But do the interpretation for me so that I may continue to simultaneously not use my brain and cover my ass. Thanks.
Me: Yes, but like I said, there’s also Whatsits, which are similar to Whatchamacallits. I need to know whether they count. It matters and changes what and how much I will have to do here, and I wouldn’t want to be accused of failing to comply with the request.
Flunky: I don’t understand, really, at all. Let me call you.
[phone rings. Conversation ensues in which I attempt to explain the existence of Whatsits and the difference between them and Whatchamacallits]
Flunky [back on email]: Thanks for the explanation. Okay, so as discussed, I will check with the Regulator.
Flunky: I have discussed this with the Regulator, and in context it appears unlikely that he was aware of Whatsits, though I’m not quite dumb enough to come out and say that in this forum. But, now that we have brought it up, he said sure, he wants docs for Whatsits too, thanks.
Me: [Sigh.] Okay. Which docs? There are several.
Flunky: How about all of them?
Me [internal]: Whatever.
[Time passes. I send details and docs regularly, to the extent I have them, except for Trade X]
Flunky: Hey, so for Trade X, you didn’t send docs.
Me: There are too many, thousands of megabytes probably, for me to send via email, but they are all available at the public website whose URL I included.
Flunky: The Regulator says they won’t use the public website. We have to give docs to them.
Me: But anything I could possibly give is at that website.
Flunky: I went to that website to try to print out the docs, apparently with the intent of handing them to the Regulator physically, in what can only be described as a colossal waste of human and physical capital, not like I care, since I just want to cover my ass. The real reason I’m writing is: there are so many! Can you tell me which ones are important so that I only print out those, and thereby cover my ass with minimal effort expended?
Me: I’m not sure. Perhaps if I had some idea of what the Regulator is looking for, or wants to know, about Trade X. Otherwise, it’s impossible for me to narrow this down.
Flunky’s Boss with Flunky Cc’ed: It’s up to us, not the Regulator, to say what is important about Trade X. It’s not up to the Regulator to either clarify, define, circumscribe, or articulate what it is about Trade X he thinks he must immediately be informed about as part of his crucial oversight duties and responsibilities. But if you have suggestions or guidance regarding this request, we would be happy to listen.
Me: Yes I do. Evidently, the Regulator doesn’t have the slightest idea what he wants to know about any of these trades. Evidently, the Regulator doesn’t actually even know what he is looking for. Therefore, the Regulator can’t possibly need any of these docs, because he can’t possibly be doing anything with these docs, other than perhaps filing them in a giant file cabinet that will be stowed in that government warehouse next to the Ark Of The Covenant.
Flunky’s Boss: … I’ll get back to you.
The moral of the story: Regulators don’t know jack about what they are charged with regulating. But that is not their primary motivation. Their primary motivation is to cover their ass. Thus anyone who bases any amount of hope or plans on ‘better regulation’ or ‘empowering the regulators to do XYZ’ either has never dealt with one, or is blowing smoke up your ass. This is why I am almost unconvinced things would be any different without ‘Regulators’ altogether – except, possibly, for the better. My experience of them, and requests downstream of them, is uniformly negative.