Today is the last day in the job for the chairman the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA), John Laker. As chairman for 11 years, Laker oversaw the rebuilding of APRA after Peter Costello gutted it following the HIH insurance collapse in 2011.
Laker's tenure at APRA is widely regarded as a success and prima facie that is true. After HIH, APRA needed a steady hand to rebuild its credibility and Laker's APRA can claim to have guided Australia comfortably through a global financial crisis that left other comparable regulators around the world with epochal egg on their faces. Despite some jitters in Australia, and the wholesale collapse of non-banks in the crisis, Australia's financial system proved more robust than elsewhere.
As well, in the period following the GFC, APRA positively shined. As the primary bank regulator it played a key role in reforming the bank vulnerabilities that were exposed by the crisis. It did this largely by insisting that banks lend dollar-for-dollar against deposits. Unquestionably, Laker leaves the financial system more stable now than it was in 2008, something of which he can be rightly proud.