George Walford: If it Ain’t Bust Don’t Fix it (2)

(Or: Yesterday’s Solutions are Today’s Problems).

This series began in IC21 [If It Ain’t Bust Don’t Fix It], and its purpose is to present evidence showing that reform is not always a good thing. Sometimes it is a very bad thing, introducing an abuse or malfunction worse than the one it was intended to correct.

The use, by people connected with a company, of their privileged information to make profits out of dealing in its shares, has long been disapproved, but until recently it was not a criminal offence. The Stock Exchange policed the market, investigating those suspected and exposing the culprits to public contempt. It is not reported that this ended the malpractice but it did, apparently, keep it within acceptable limits.

Some small number of years ago “insider trading” was made a criminal offence. It has been found almost impossible to prove charges in a court of law and the Stock Exchange is now unable to investigate those it suspects in case it should falsely accuse an innocent of criminal behaviour. “Insider trading” is now flourishing, and this is a direct result of the reform intended to suppress it. (Sunday Times and Observer 17 Nov 85).

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BILL STICKERS WILL BE PROSECUTED. Bill Stickers is innocent!

from Ideological Commentary 21, November 1985.