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Charles Bowsher, Former Comptroller General, Visits LMU

As Comptroller General for 16 years (1981-96), Charles Bowsher was in a position to oversee the expenditures of the U.S. government on a regular basis. He headed the General Accountability Office, an arm of the Congress with auditing and investigative powers created to help that branch of the government in its oversight of the use of federal funds. When Bowsher came to the Loyola Marymount University campus Oct. 21, he shared his opinions about the nation’s current economic and financial crisis.

“I believe our current financial crisis has its roots in the 1929 banking meltdown,” Bowsher said. “This time, our major institutions [are] highly leveraged – not individuals.”

Bowsher said he is confident that the U.S. banking system will not fail, but he believes financial reform is necessary. He pointed to major financial issues facing the United States: derivatives worth trillions of dollars that are going unregulated, a concentration of 40 percent of deposits in four banks, and the lack of standardized mortgages. He also said current levels of executive compensation are irresponsible.

“I think it’s essential to address executive compensation,” Bowsher said. “If, instead of leaving the money in the company to have enough reserves for a rainy day you pay it out to executives, you have a few people who are very rich.”

More than 300 LMU students, faculty and staff attended Bowsher’s lecture, which was titled “The Banking Crisis, Debt, and Ethics.” His talk was part of the Distinguished Speaker Series of the Center for Accounting Ethics, Governance and the Public Interest in the LMU College of Business Administration.

Posted Oct. 26