Financial regulation in the United States has been godawful enough. But compared to Britain, it has always looked rather good. My quote of the day, from SEC enforcement director John Fedders in 1984, speaking to Rowan Bosworth-Davies who was on secondment there at the time:
“You British think that those people who are responsible for the management of other people’s money are gentlemen, and you are shocked and surprised when you find out that the opposite is true. We Americans assume that everyone who handles someone else’s money has the propensity to be a crook, and we legislate for the likelihood.”
Also from Fedders, on bankers:
“These people are madmen…” he used to say. “…They are worse than madmen, they are deranged imbeciles, they worship only money, and they don’t care how it comes. You let them loose in London and they will screw you…They don’t take any notice of laws, regulations are there to be ignored at best and got round at worst, a lot of them are little more than criminals, and you guys better make sure you have got some tough cops on the street to deal with them…”
OK, so since then Wall Street has certainly tried to keep up with London in the race to the bottom, and things have deteriorated a very, very long way across the Pond. But London remains in a class of its own.