The FSA and regulation

Adair Turner’s speech is about as exciting as you could expect the FSA Chairman to be at the Mansion House. It apparently caused someone to be ‘appalled, disgusted and ashamed’ – and generally upset breakfasts.

What was causing the upset was his remarks that there should be more restraint on innovation and that it was not his job to be the cheerleader for the City, pursuing growth at all costs. While this should be obvious to most people, it is a shock to those engaged in the City.

What is happening here is that the scale of the fianncial crisis has revealed the dependence of the rest of the economy on the City – and therefore laid bare the real purpose of a regulator: to protect society from the economy, not the other way round. Adair Turner is getting to grips with the same  conflict of interest that is at the heart of many regulators. They are sometimes not quite sure whether they are regulating the public or the industry in their care.