Carney appointment historic moment for Canada

Mark Carney's skills are going to be sorely missed in Canada. But maybe in the long run we’re all going to benefit.

Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada, is off to London next summer to pick up the reins as Governor of the Bank of England. His skills are going to be sorely missed in Canada. But maybe in the long run we’re all going to benefit.

Carney clearly has credentials that have made him the go-to golden guy in the financial world. Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Rt. Hon. George Osborne, described him as a quality governor. “He is quite simply the best, most experienced and most qualified person in the world to be the next Governor of the Bank of England,” Osborne told The Telegraph newspaper.

This is no casual compliment, coming from a pretty lofty place. The position of Chancellor is considered one of the four Great Offices of State, the other three being Prime Minister, Foreign Secretary, and Home Secretary.

This is the first time a foreigner has been appointed as governor of the Bank of England in its 318-year history. The decision to appoint Carney was based on his stellar performance guiding Canada through the last four rocky years.  Apparently the Chancellor wanted him in the post so much that he waived the application process.

With his experience and management skills, Carney plans to play a constructive role re-jigging the Bank and hopefully push it into the 21st century with the help of some visionary think tanks. In that re-organizing, maybe he’ll be able to dump some of that entrenched, institutional moribund banking culture still shackled to the 17th century.  The bank still has a ‘court’ of directors, for gosh sakes.

Carney’s goals over the next five years are financial stability and a growing U.K. economy. And there’s no doubt he’ll need to stare down the ominous threat of breakup from the Eurozone where the quarrelsome and often mercurial Europeans spit out what they think and what they want without hesitation.

The task before him is daunting. He will be steering the world’s largest financial centre toward a path of fiscal health at a time when the reputation of Britain’s banking system is in the tank.

Born in Fort Smith, NWT, Carney received a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University in 1988. He obtained his master’s degree in economics in 1993 and a doctorate in economics in 1995, both from Oxford University. He had a thirteen-year career with Goldman Sachs in its London, Tokyo, New York and Toronto offices before being appointed Deputy Governor of the Bank of Canada in 2003. He became Associate Deputy Minister of Finance in 2004 until being appointed as Governor of the Bank of Canada in 2008.

Carney’s wife, Diana Fox, is no professional slouch either. A savvy Brit with dual citizenship, she met Carney at Oxford and launched her career as an economist specializing in developing nations. She is active in environmental and social justice causes, a fact not lost on the British press that ran some grumpy editorials about Fox’s eco-activism and her musings about inequality, her support for the Occupy movement, and her concerns about the global marketplace.

But what Carney achieves in the U.K. could reverberate here in Canada. If he can get the U.K. economy ticking and if he can influence the EU to pull itself out of its own financial quagmire, the outcome could be much needed global economic growth and stability.

Apparently, according to a sweep of commentators in The Guardian, Carney is a fan of the hard rock band AC/DC. But here’s hoping the liveried doormen in pink tailcoats aren’t playing “Highway to Hell” as a welcoming keynote in the Bank’s halls when Mark steps up to the plate in July.

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