Monday, March 4, 2013

Bonus cap legislator, Sharon Bowles: 'woman' does not make her an 'outsider'

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.  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 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. 
Crucially, by overlooking the shoddy parts of Draghi's record, she subordinated herself to him at the onset.

Also see


  1. FT, March 2013: Europe, a loaded chamber; The EU parliament’s capping of bank bonuses shows it has matured as a political force.


    "As evidence, he points to the thousands of lobbyists who now prowl the parliament’s corridors on any given day"

    That is not new evidence and it points to the contrary.

  2. FT, March 6: 'Bureaucrats' not behind bonus cap proposal, from Sharon Bowles.

    Not Brussels bureaucrats, says Bowles, but the transposition of 'Basel III framework on international standards', is behind the bonus cap. Bureaucrats are behind Basel III, so what's the point Bowles is trying to make: they're not in Brussels?

  3. Jon Worth from The Guardian writes phony praise for Sharon Bowles

    Jon Worth tweeted on Mar 7 2013 about a Nov 2012 article her wrote, published in The Guardian:

    "Sharon Bowles topping the EU's power list is a lesson for Westminster
    A poll naming the Lib Dem MEP as most influential Briton in EU policy is testament to Brussels' more egalitarian style"

    Here was my first response:

    @jonworth, you ignore sham investigation of GR/#Goldman.… @guardian #propaganda @steffenmoller @simonmc @ggreenwald— ECB-Watch (@ECB_Watch) March 7, 2013

    The subject matter of the committee Sharon Bowles chairs, econ and monetary affairs,
    tops the list of EU concerns—think Euro and financial crisis. Most able people would make the conjecture by themselves that, therefore, she must 'top the EU power list'.

    But Jon Worth did, instead, what conscientious journalists do: cite a reference, namely Euractiv who relied on a team of 'experts'. What's wrong with that? I refer you to the comment by VikingHusting.

    Since *anyone* in Sharon Bowles' position would top the EU power list, because of the circumstances, the proper criterion for praising her is whether she deserves to be in that position *based on her record*.

    Jon Worth didn't bother with that (understandably, read my post). He used, instead, the trick of postulating that the British Parliament rewards brash personalities whereas the EU Parliament is presented as 'measured and balanced'. So, since Sharon Bowles thrived in the second, she, too, must have had related qualities. Jon Worth even gives us proof of this skewed proposition:

    "She has held [the Chair] since 2009 [and will do so] until 2014 (high praise when most chairs are ousted after only two and a half years)"

    He didn't bother, this time, to cite a source. Incumbents usually have an advantage and, as it turns out, her predecessor, Pervenche Berès served two terms: 2004—2009.

    The 'measured and balanced' assumption itself is dubious. Brussels is a hub for lobbyists and EP is part of the problem. Sharon Bowles, in particular, failed to disclose her affiliation with an organization that counts as its corporate member the US Chamber of Commerce and as honorary president the Chairman of Goldman Sachs International (Peter Sutherland).

    Let's sum up: skewed proposition, supported by unverified data, and based on a dubious assumption. But more importantly: totally ignores Sharon Bowles' actual record.

    This begs the question: is it possible Sharon Bowles thrived in the EU Parliament in spite of herself?

    1. Double standards.

      Jon Worth - Feb 11, 2013 - Lobbyists feeding amendments to MEPs – I’m surprised that this is even news (but we need to know)


      "Brussels is lobby-central. [...] So it was a bit of a surprise when today Privacy International called it a ‘scandal’ that business lobbies have been found to have written – word for word – the amendments to a Data Protection Regulation. The companies doing this are apparently Amazon, eBay, the American Chamber of Commerce [sponsor of Transatlantic Policy Network, Sharon Bowles' undisclosed affil. as of 2012] and the European Banking Federation. But this practice happens day in, day out in Brussels, and has been for years and years. A old Brussels friend has told me he knew of a MEP in the 1990s who even kept the companies’ logos on the papers he submitted with amendments."

      So much for a 'measured and balanced' European Parliament.

  4. The 'suffragette' PR move by the EU as part of the response to the 'legitimacy situation' continues. Seen today in social media:

    The Institute of Directors, scheduled for April 13, 2013: What if Lehman Brothers were Lehman Sisters?. Speaker: MEP Arlene McCarthy, Vice-Chair of Europarl ECON.

    MEP Arlene Mc Carthy is singled out in the post ECON MEPs hide conflict of interest

  5. Sharon Bowles' subordination Mario Draghi in terms of policy, the Banking Union:

    "I think that one of the things it recognises is that banking supervision has to take account of what monetary policy is, so to have the ECB involved in supervision of eurozone banks and therefore taking account of eurozone monetary policy in that supervision is a good idea."—Sharon Bowles, June 2012

    This opinion is topsy turvy as shown here:

    ECB-Watch - Aug 14, 2012 - Eviction of EBA establishes ECB as an empire

    1. Bowles warns against the consequences of what she lobbied for: yielding banking supervision to the ECB.

      WSJ - April 12, 2013 - EU Lawmaker [Sharon Bowles] Sees Fight Over ECB Scrutiny

      The ECB is due to take on new responsibilities as Europe's single banking supervisor by mid-2014 under an agreement reached in December by European Union member states. [...] Bowles pointed to a speech last week by Yves Mersch, in which the ECB executive board member took issue with the European Parliament's right to veto its nomination for the vice chair of the single regulator's supervisory board "[as it] seriously jeopardizes the independent functioning of the executive board," Mr. Mersch said. "They seem to still be riding so high on their independence and so reluctant to see that they cannot take on supervision without [being held] to account," Ms. Bowles said.

  6. Crocodile tears.

    BBC - March 17, 2013 - EU leaders gamble in Cyprus bank bailout


    "Sharon Bowles, who chairs the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee is appalled."

    She wasn't appalled when false testimonies about Goldman/GR were spoken during Draghi's nomination and the debate dedicated to the issue, both under her chairmanship.

  7. Twitter - Feb 4, 2013 - Conversation between @ECB_Watch and @EUombudsman - Backup