Bonus Cap Legislator, Sharon Bowles: 'Woman' Does Not Make Her An 'Outsider'

March 12th, 2013
in Op Ed

by ECB Watch,

Sharon Bowles, Lib Dem MEP for South East England, was remarked has one of 100 people to watch by Times. We have been watching since prior to this bombastic announcement.

Recently, she advertised herself as a 'woman and outsider' in the race for governor of BOE. The outcome? She was ousted. But more to the point, as we discuss below, being a woman does not make her an outsider.

All matters pertaining to EU financial regulation and the ECB come to the attention of the committee of the EU Parliament she chairs, known as ECON.

Follow up:

Latest to date, the cap on banker's bonuses:

Erudite? No, flawed.

If it cannot limit total pay, then total pay will remain unchanged, courtesy of complacent regulators—that's what they're known for, and because the business of banking—Obama recognizes it—is to 'find loopholes'.

Then what's the point?

Late awakening

Sharon Bowles has been Chair of the committee since 2009. The committee, then, is supposed to have taken the measure of the financial crisis and set out to remedy its causes through ambitious legislation and oversight. She brags that thousands and thousands of amendments have got her thumbprint on them.

Has it worked? Think 'LIBOR scandal'.

With the mess that unfolds on Sharon Bowles' watch, her recent solemn appeal for transparency in banking rings like a diversion—that's the point—from her earlier complacency.

Sharon Bowles brags about her style of 'consensus and compromise'. The consensus is formed by the wrong interests and she compromised her independence towards them.  The proper response to the financial crisis was to prosecute fraud thoroughly and enact a Glass-Steagall like separation between deposit taking institutions and investment banking. We got neither.

Sham investigation of the GR/Goldman scandal

The rebuttal to this criticism, let's suppose, is the usual one: how could the EU be held responsible when national regulators are still in charge? That's why 'we need a banking union and a common supervisory framework'.

For her, that rebuttal wouldn't cut it.

The two times the GR/Goldman scandal came across her desk, Mario Draghi's nomination and a parliamentary debate she chaired, her attitude was conspicuously aloof. Insanely dubious testimonies were given, but Sharon Bowles didn't even blink an eye.

That resulted in a cover up whereas her authority as chair of ECON was sufficient to give the matter the judicial attention it deserves. She chose the path of least resistance, that is, deference to the ECB and the Commission (via Olli Rehn). That dispels any notion that cracking down on financial fraud was Sharon Bowles' priority.

We call this cover up the 'Bermuda triangle in GR/Goldman waters' because watchdogs whose business is to track corruption and financial/Brussels correspondents avoid it. A 'media officer' of the EU Ombudsman pointed out the impasse:

The price of deference to Draghi

Sharon Bowles complains that she can't even barr the nomination of yet another male ECB board member. She reaps was she sowed: by overlooking the shoddy parts of Draghi's record, she subordinated herself to him at the onset. In fact, Sharon Bowles knew what she was getting into the day she recommended Mario Draghi:

ECON Question No 31: What system do you think is appropriate to ensure an equitable rotation of membership on the ECB-executive board also in terms of nationalities and gender?

Draghi: Introducing further considerations into the appointment procedure, such as nationality and gender representation, would introduce arbitrary elements which might actually be counter-productive in choosing the most competent persons.

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