Co-authored with Arthur Phillips, research associate at the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
Along with former Senator Alan Simpson, Erskine Bowles has become known to much of the public as the co-chair of President Obama's deficit commission. The two of them produced a report that is viewed by many in the media and leading Democrats in Congress as providing the basis for a "Grand Bargain" on a long-term deficit reduction package. After the commission ended its work, Bowles and Simpson co-founded the Campaign to Fix the Debt, an organization dedicated to reducing deficits that is backed by the top executives of some of the countries' largest corporations.
Bowles has also held a number of other policy related positions. He served as President of the University of North Carolina from 2005-2010. He was President Clinton's Chief of Staff from 1996 to 1998. In addition he managed to squeeze in unsuccessful runs for the North Carolina senate seat in 2002 and 2004.
In addition to his work in the public sector, Mr. Bowles has quite a track record as a director having sat on the boards of many corporations that achieved considerable notoriety. Topping this list would be Morgan Stanley, the huge Wall Street investment bank that would have gone under in 2008 had it not been for bailouts from the Treasury and the Fed. Bowles received $335,000 for his work as a director at Morgan Stanley in the prior year.
Bowles continues to serve on Morgan Stanley's board, receiving $1,670,000 for work in the years from 2008 through 2012. He recently was appointed chair of Morgan Stanley's Board. While CEO pay was held down to less than $1.3 million annually in 2008 and 2009, in the years 2010 to 2012, during which time the firm's stock fell significantly, CEO pay totaled $38.8 million.
Bowles sat on the board of General Motors from June of 2005 until it went into bankruptcy in the spring of 2009. He served on the board of Krispy Kreme at the time it was a Wall Street darling. He left to run his Senate campaign just before the company became enmeshed in an accounting scandal.
Bowles also became a director of Norfolk Southern Corporation in late February 2011. From then until the end of 2012, he was paid $594,415 for his service to the railroad company. In 2012, the company's stock lost real value and fell well below the S&P average. That year CEO Charles W. Moorman IV's total compensation was valued at $12.7 million, 16 percent above what it was in 2010.
Another company of which Bowles was long a director is Cousins Properties. He served on the company's board from 2003 through May 2012. For essentially the entirety of Bowles' time as a director, the company underperformed the market average, and since the bottom of the recession its stock has faired particularly poorly. Yet from 2008 to 2011, the last full year Bowles was a director, CEO pay increased by 73 percent. The next year, CEO compensation went up another 276 percent.
Bowles also sits on the board of Facebook, having joined in September 2011, before the company's May 18, 2012, initial public offering (IPO). While the company's stock did fall sharply in the period following the IPO it has since rebounded to levels well above the initial offering price. In addition, Bowles has been a director of Belk, a major department store chain, since May of 2011.
Directorships, 2008-2012: 6
Total director compensation, 2008-2012: $3,295,509
Average annual director compensation, 2008-2012: $659,102
Average compensation per full year of service as director: $218,822
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