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SEC DERA, We Love You!

Let’s all be honest: the Securities and Exchange Commission is not known for a sense of humor.

This is too bad, because at least some individual SEC employees I’ve met over the years have been quite funny. Their inner comedian yearns to break free in a litigation release or SEC comment letter, only to be silenced by the stern visage that a regulatory agency like the SEC is supposed to project.

And then, several weeks ago, I noticed something strange in the Twitter feed of the SEC’s Division of Economic Risk and Analysis: jokes.

And not only jokes, mind you—occasionally even good jokes, that someone might actually crack at a party; plus flashes of self-deprecating wit and good humor. Take a look.

No, really—that is a joke. Call your old college roommate who majored in economics to confirm if you want. If he’s still in the business, he might even laugh.

DERA joined on March 20. As of this morning, the Division had posted 193 tweets. I haven’t done a thorough analysis of the humor-to-boring ratio, but I can safely say that DERA is far more witty than the general SEC News feed, and light years beyond the Enforcement Division’s feed, which is a total snoozer.

We also love the wry self-awareness that DERA has about economists. They get a bum rap as nerds even in the corporate compliance field—and really, who are we to throw stones here?—but DERA knows how to bring it.

Don’t let that one get you down, interns. Your data science skills will keep you all gainfully employed while the rest of us are wishing IBM never invented the Watson machine.

And here’s DERA poking fun at the stereotype of economists as a bunch of boring grey suits, by posting a photo of a DERA forum where the speakers are all dressed in boring grey suits:

Oh, wait. That one was supposed to be serious.

Who’s behind all this? I don’t know, and on a certain metaphysical level, I don’t want to know. It could be some mid-level public affairs functionary. Perhaps (although I’d be surprised) the tweets come from Scott Bauguess, acting head of DERA. He joined Twitter only a few weeks before DERA, and while he tweets much less, he’s mildly funny too.

And, occasionally, DERA tweets out a substantive point that hits dead-on to issues relevant to corporate compliance and governance. Here’s one from May 10, that seems eerily prescient as we all talk about Uber’s governance meltdown this week.

Sure, we could call the SEC public affairs office and try to unmask the culprit. But the world is more interesting, a bit more puckish, with some mysterious source pumping out funny tweets from what should be a boring division of a boring government agency. So I’m just going to follow along and enjoy the life. Rock on, DERA.

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