Bloomberg News

BOE ‘Cloak and Dagger’ Governor Job Process Keeps Bowles Waiting

November 23, 2012

BOE ‘Cloak and Dagger’ Governor Job Process Keeps Bowles Waiting

Sharon Bowles, chair of the European Parliament's Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, at a news conference in Wroclaw, Poland. Photographer: Bartek Sadowski/Bloomberg

European Parliament lawmaker Sharon Bowles said her interview to become Bank of England Governor was shrouded in secrecy as the U.K. Treasury tried to keep the application process under wraps before a decision due on Dec. 5.

“It was all a bit cloak and dagger,” Bowles told reporters in Frankfurt today as she recounted how she learned of her job interview with Treasury officials. “Sort of, ‘this is your e-mail giving you your instructions. Please read and eat it and don’t tell anybody what’s going on.”’

Bowles, who chairs the parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee, is the only woman known to have applied and would be the first female governor in the Bank of England’s 318- year history. Other candidates Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne may consider include its deputy governor, Paul Tucker, Financial Services Authority Chairman Adair Turner and John Vickers, who chaired the Independent Commission on Banking.

“I think we won’t hear anything until the 5th of December, when the chancellor gives the Autumn statement,” she said. “I presume the person who’s going to be it gets to hear, because they’ve got to say yes. I haven’t heard yet. Consultations and discussions and so forth will go on.”

Bowles, 59, is a member of the Liberal Democrats, Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition partners. She said in an interview last month that Christine Lagarde’s appointment to lead the International Monetary Fund provided a parallel example to show how she could replace the current governor, Mervyn King.

‘Common Sense’

“To be honest, it just looks like they need a little bit of female common sense at the top to stop all this ‘I’m the most important person in the world and I’m going to second-guess everyone else’” way of thinking, she said today.

Bowles said that she wasn’t on people’s “radar” before, because the conventional view was that the job was for an “Oxbridge economist” who graduated in the 1970s. She studied chemical physics and math at Reading University, before doing research into semiconductors at Oxford University.

“A lot of people who dismissed it as a daft idea, when they’ve actually fully come to look at and realize what my job entails, it’s a little bit more than just doing some legislation with all the euro zone and ECB stuff, and they’ve looked at what they want, they’ve gone, ‘Oh,’” she said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Scott Hamilton in London at shamilton8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net


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