25 August 2011

 We take for granted those things we are used to. It may be axiomatic, but what we consider ordinary, others consider extraordinary.

What is surprising for an audience of New Zealand officials is to hear an American public sector specialist list as admirable and unusual, practices in place in New Zealand throughout their working lives.

Jonathan Karp, an analyst with the Securities and Exchange Commission is an Ian Axford Fellow who has spent a year attached to the Securities Commission and the Companies Office. Yesterday he presented his observations to a Wellington audience. He has studied information availability and disclosure procedures of these market regulators.

His paper, “Can the US import ‘sunlight’ from NZ? An assessment of NZ’s model for corporate disclosures” explores the superiority he perceives of NZ processes over those of the SEC. Karp is impressed by the NZ framework for a”clearly missioned, transparently resourced, technologically advanced disclosure operation”. He suggests that the SEC should consider approaches based on the NZ model.

‘Sunlight as the best of disinfectants’ was the transparency metaphor of Justice Brandeis of the US Supreme Court almost a century ago. It seems almost like carrying coals to Newcastle that NZ practices should now be advocated as the tool to open up the SEC, that quintessential US regulator, at the heart of capitalism.