Janet oh Janet

Janet Albretchsen is usually a good read.  And yes, no one can really bat 100%.  But Janet’s contribution to the Australian on the weekend was, how do you say, idiotic.

Essentially, what Janet was arguing for was for the regulation of speech.  For certain class of people, who write and express opinions, to be regulated.

What the regulation would seek to enhance or stop, Janet did not describe.  Just to stop people expressing views that she does not like.

Let’s get to the details.  Janet writes:

Understandably, most people don’t follow the nooks and crannies of capitalism. Such as the fact that proxy advisory firms are the most unregulated gatekeepers in corporate Australia. And that’s the way they want it to stay. They have maintained this status by lobbying government and pretending this is a niche issue of no concern to mainstream Australians. They even resisted a self-regulatory code.

TAFKAS does follow the nooks and crannies of capitalism and guess what Janet, proxy advisors are not the most unregulated gatekeepers.  There are many “unregulated gatekeeper” in Australia, but you can count journalists amongst them.  AND THIS IS A BLOODY GOOD THING.

For those who read scarey diatribes, let’s just explain what proxy advisors are.  They are people who read listed company documents (such as annual reports and notices of meetings) and offer commentary.  They sometimes meet with company management to discuss their questions and analysis.  They also make recommendations on how people should vote at company annual general meetings.

People don’t need to buy their reports.  People don’t need to follow their recommendations.  People don’t even need to read their recommendations.

Why do proxy advisors have power and a market.  Because of the structure of the investment industry.  Institutional investor trustees give management mandates to fund managers, but for whatever reason, they often separate the investment decision (what do buy and sell) from the voting decision (how to vote in meetings).  This is where the proxy advisors come in.

They undertake their analysis and make voting recommendations.  But, and here is the big but.  There is no regulatory requirement for institutional investor trustees to:

  • separate investment decisions from voting;
  • outsource voting analysis to proxy advisors;
  • follow the recommendations of proxy advisors;
  • read the analysis of proxy advisors.

No laws.  Just their view on how to best govern the millions and billions they manage.

Here’s a parallel.  Journalists read government reports.  Journalist meet with representatives of the government (elected or bureaucratic).  Journalists write stuff.  Journalist say stuff.

People are not obliged to consume the product of journalism.  And journalists are not regulated, yet at least, beyond the stuff that we are all subject to including defamation.

As Janet also writes:

But as the old saying goes, sunshine is the best disinfectant. And while increasing regulation is usually misguided, sometimes care fully targeted laws can let the sunlight in.

Yeah.  Sunshine is the best disinfectant.  Here’s some sunshine.  Janet’s argument to regulate speech is, stupid.

But perhaps Janet explain what the regulation she wants will do?  And also what other speech should such regulation apply to also?

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22 Responses to Janet oh Janet

  1. Herodotus

    OK then, read Nick Cater today instead.

  2. JC

    Janet has the occasional hissy fit, which is understandable. She’s female. We have to learn to parden these failings.

  3. JC

    As for idiocy at the Oz over the weekend. Get a load of Alan Kolher’s contribution to a negative learning experience.

    Climate goalposts have moved
    FILE – In this June 3, 2017, file photo, the coal-fired Plant Scherer, one of the nation’s top carbon dioxide emitters, stands in the distance in Juliette, Ga. Since leaders first started talking about tackling the problem of climate change, the world has spewed more heat-trapping gases, gotten hotter and suffered hundreds of extreme weather disasters. Fires have burned, ice has melted and seas have grown.

    Climate science says we’re racing to a tipping point that demands massive changes from business and the economy.

    This imbecile should have been “pasturized” decades ago.

    And there’s Robert Gottliebsen

    Breaking up the banks could make them more manageable

    Making him our very own version of Elizabeth Warren.

    I may as well read the Fairfax papers with two imbeciles on the Oz payroll.

  4. feelthebern

    To me the column stank of an editor butchering it.
    Or am I being too kind?

  5. feelthebern

    JC, did you read the AFR?
    & Christopher Joye’s Westpac column?

  6. JC

    Bern

    Yea with great interest. It wasn’t basically the long version of my column in Catallaxy. 🙂

    The point he made though was as we continue to expect the banks to be police, continue to be unsurprised they aren’t. This crap will keep on going.

  7. feelthebern

    I’ve already emailed it you before I read your comment.
    Westpac & AUSTRAC had a JV to track that shit.
    Yet AUSTRAC went nut.
    Isn’t that like going nuts at yourself?

  8. JC

    That’s incredible, Bern. Austrac knew about the peds and didn’t tell Wetpach at their meeting 5 days prior to the shit hitting the fan.

    Further, AUSTRAC did not advise Westpac that these individuals were suspected paedophiles until November 15, 2019, five days before it filed its statement of claim,

    The public sector is just fucking poison.

  9. JC

    That’s incredible, Bern. Austrac knew about the p*ds and didn’t tell Wetpach at their meeting 5 days prior to the shit hitting the fan.

    Further, AUSTRAC did not advise Westpac that these individuals were suspected paedophiles until November 15, 2019, five days before it filed its statement of claim,

    The public sector is just fucking poison.

    That should enrage everyone, but of course it won’t because it’s easier to hit “thems” banks who make profits.

    Remind me to never spare any abuse for a self confessed public sector employee.

  10. JC

    That’s incredible, Bern. Austrac knew about the p*ds and didn’t tell Wetpach at their meeting 5 days prior to the shit hitting the fan.

    Further, AUSTRAC did not advise Westpac that these individuals were suspected p**d *philes until November 15, 2019, five days before it filed its statement of claim,

    The public sector is just fucking poison.

    That should enrage everyone, but of course it won’t because it’s easier to hit “thems” banks who make profits.

    Remind me to never spare any abuse for a self confessed public sector employee.

  11. feelthebern

    Seriously, Westpac needs to fire up.
    Not be a pack of pussies.

  12. JC

    Seriously, Westpac needs to fire up.
    Not be a pack of pussies.

    Fire up, by these pussies? Play a game and tell me which one of these critters isn’t woke nor pussy.
    https://www.westpac.com.au/about-westpac/westpac-group/board-of-directors/

  13. JC

    Get a load of this one.

    Margaret Seale

    BA, FAICD
    Skills, experience and expertise

    Margie has more than 25 years’ experience in senior executive roles in Australia and overseas, including in consumer goods, global publishing, sales and marketing, and the successful transition of traditional business models to digital environments. Prior to her non-executive career, Margie was Managing Director of Random House Australia and New Zealand and President, Asia Development for Random House Inc.

    Margie is a former Director and then Chair of Penguin Random House Australia Pty Limited, and a former Director of Ramsay Health Care Limited, Bank of Queensland Limited and the Australian Publishers’ Association. She also previously served on the boards of Chief Executive Women (chairing its Scholarship Committee), the Powerhouse Museum, and the Sydney Writers Festival.

    In 2015, Margie founded philanthropic literary travel company Ponder & See, which funds writers’ festivals and writers through creating literary trips or experiences for interested readers.
    Westpac Board Committee membership

    Member of each of the Board Remuneration and Board Risk & Compliance Committees.
    Term of office

    Director from 1 March 2019.

    They basically stuck a likely greens supporter on the board.

  14. feelthebern

    That is one woke board.

  15. Chris M

    Janet Albretchsen is usually a good read.

    Her writings are consistently low IQ of a socialist bent. but perhaps that’s how one gets employed in the AU media.

    Thinking it could be the German heritage, always looking for the government for leadership and no real concept of individual freedom or how to handle that.

  16. Louis

    I agree with you tafkas. These type of entities (although my example is of short sellers) did they major leg work to expose the massive fraud in the US and elsewhere from the US housing market collapse and debt collateralization.

    So concerned were these lot about what they found that they didn’t just take advantage of it but dragged the regulators kicking and screaming to do something about it.

    BTW ‘gatekeepers’ is not a tag I would think to assign to this group. Journalists are far more suitable to that tag.

  17. 2dogs

    There is no regulatory requirement for institutional investor trustees to …
    follow the recommendations of proxy advisors

    Given I am compelled to use a government approved superannuation trustee for my retirement savings, I would appreciate the ability to instruct that superannuation trustee to follow the recommendations of my preferred proxy advisor.

    There are thousands of public superannuation funds in Australia, but none of them give their members any control over the voting rights attached to the shares they own. Not. A. Single. One.

  18. Mark A

    Chris M
    #3250066, posted on December 2, 2019 at 6:38 pm

    Janet Albretchsen is usually a good read.

    Thinking it could be the German heritage, always looking for the government for leadership and no real concept of individual freedom or how to handle that.

    Sounds more Danish to me.

  19. @2dogs

    Given I am compelled to use a government approved superannuation trustee for my retirement savings

    You can set up a self managed fund and vote however you wish. You can instruct your fund to put all your investments in fixed income (where there is no voting).

    Not sure what a “public superannuation fund” is. If you mean a fund that accepts retail deposits, you are probably correct that none of them allow beneficial owner voting. 1 – it is complex because of working out how many votes each unit holder has at the “record date” and what to do with fractional votes. 2 – it would be expensive to administer (no managed funds anywhere in the world do this either). 3 – the trustees would argue that to concentrate voting ensures better corporate governance. You may not agree but then you are free to move your capital.

  20. Pyrmonter

    @ JC

    Lindsay Maxted is a former chairman of KPMG and one of the country’s better insolvency appointees. He was ASIC’s expert in its proceedings against Elliott and others over Water Wheel. He’s no idiot. Which makes what’s transpired all the more remarkable.

  21. 2dogs

    You can set up a self managed fund and vote however you wish.

    Yes, but the super rules make this an expensive option. Too expensive to be worthwhile for me.

    I would not have those expenses if super were not compulsory. Then it would be worthwhile to invest my retirement savings, and vote my shares, myself.

    Not sure what a “public superannuation fund” is.

    Any super fund that is not a SMSF.

    it is complex because of working out how many votes each unit holder has at the “record date” and what to do with fractional votes

    This really isn’t that hard. By the measure of a lot of data processing done at fund managers, it is fairly simple.

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