OUTLOOK: Friends with benefits at the Bank of England's Financial Policy Committee


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The Independent Online

Baroness Morgan says she has been dumped by the Conservatives as chair of Ofsted because they are keen to stuff quangos with their friends and donors.

I leave to others more expert than me to decide whether she’s got a case or not. But when it comes to the Bank of England’s Financial Policy Committee (FPC) I think there’s pretty strong evidence of this kind of behaviour going on.

Last year the impressive City veteran Robert Jenkins was turned down for a permanent position on the watchdog by George Osborne. One of the Chancellor’s replacement appointees was Richard Sharp, a former Goldman Sachs banker who has also personally donated around £400,000 to the Tory Party.

And how has that switch worked out? It would be fair to say that Mr Sharp has had a low-key start on the FPC. Since taking up his position last April he has not made a single public speech.

Compare that to the five made by Mr Jenkins in his first year in the job. When this dearth of output was pointed out to Mr Sharp at a recent Treasury Select Committee hearing the former Goldman man spluttered that he didn’t want to give the impression of disagreement on the FPC.

It was left to the chair, Andrew Tyrie, to point out, gently, to Mr Sharp that he was appointed precisely to air in public his expert views on financial regulation. Or was Mr Sharp given a different brief, in private, when he was given the job by Mr Osborne?