Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Would you bank on them?

/ who hired these guys again? /
If you follow a disastrous path and not only fail miserably at your job but drag the whole Earth along with you, shouldn't you get another chance to implement the exact same philosophy that caused the disaster? Well yes, if the persons hiring you are the European Commission and you are among the elite economists that were proven so spectacularly wrong on anything they said prior to the crash. I paste from the executive summary of the Corporate Europe Observatory report "Would you bank on them?":

The financial crisis has unleashed a huge debate on the state of the global financial system.
As politicians examine fiscal solutions and regulatory reforms, the big question is how supervision and regulation should be changed to avoid a repetition of the present meltdown. In the EU, the Commission and the Council has set up a High Level Group of eight experts to advise them on how to reform the financial system in terms of supervision and regulation. Given the now obvious failings of the current system and individual financial sector
institutions, it would seem prudent to seek advice from a diversity of sources, including from independent experts who had expressed concern about the flaws in the current financial architecture.
However, the group - named the de Larosière Group after its chairman - is comprised of people closely linked to the financial industry, or to institutions that, to a greater or lesser extent, have been implicated in the crisis. Four members of the group are closely linked to giant financial corporations that have all played a major role in the current financial crisis, a fifth was the head of the UK Financial Services Authority that completely failed in its supervision of bust bank Northern Rock, a sixth is a fierce enemy of regulation and a seventh works for a company whose clients include major banks.
Beyond this, some members of the Group failed to warn of the impending financial crisis and lately they have even played down its extent and severity. The majority have expressed strong support for a deregulated financial sector and can be deemed to have supported hard-line, neo-liberal policies that arguably created the financial crisis. They are the very kind of people who got us in to the mess. The eight members are:

Jacques de Larosière: Co-chair of the financial sector lobby organization, Eurofi and until recently, adviser to the French bank BNP Paribas for a decade
Rainer Masera: Former Managing Director of a European branch of Lehman Brothers, which went bankrupt after heavy losses on subprime loans
Onno Ruding: An adviser to Citigroup, owners of Citibank that received billions of US dollars in a bail-out
Otmar Issing: Adviser to the financial giant Goldman Sachs
Callum McCarthy: Former head of the UK Financial Services Authority, accused of systematically failing in its duty over bust British bank, Northern Rock
Leszek Balcerowicz: A strident advocate of deregulation
José Pérez Fernández: Works for a financial market intelligence company, which counts big banks as clients
Lars Nyberg: A career banker, now vice chair of the Swedish National Bank.

That such a group has been selected to play a key role in the EU debate on the response to the crisis is deeply worrying. It is unlikely to open up any debate on real alternatives to the present financial architecture.
Policy capture by vested interests results in flawed policies and regulations. Europe’s leaders must end the privileged access to decision makers enjoyed by the powerful finance sector lobby. At the same time, they must also curb the power that the private sector holds over the political process in the EU and make decision-making democratically accountable.

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