Jeremy Warner: Women bankers are no protection

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The Independent Online

Outlook Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, would be well advised to read Gillian Tett's excellent new book on the origins of the banking crisis, Fool's Gold, before sounding off again on the merits of packing the boards of nationalised banks with women so as to protect us all from the supposed greed-fuelled recklessness of male bankers.

The leader of the team that brought us the collateralised debt obligations, convinced regulators that these credit derivatives were perfectly safe, and indeed sold the concept to AIG (now being kept alive on a drip feed of hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers' money), was in fact a woman, one Blythe Masters of JP Morgan.

Gender, it seems, is no protection against either recklessness or greed. Take Nicola Horlick, arguably Britain's most famous female financier. Not only did she allow one of her funds to invest heavily in Madoff, but it now transpires that her management group, Bramdean, stands to collect a £7m break fee (or payment for failure) if ousted from the management contract. Standard practice, apparently.

Women may not be filled with testosterone, but the idea that folly, vice, vanity and avarice are confined to the male version of the species is laughable.