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Britain names Canadian to head Bank of England

Mark Carney, Canada's central bank chief, is to start in July as governor of the Bank of England. His tasks include reviving the British economy.

November 27, 2012|By Henry Chu, Los Angeles Times
  • Mark Carney will serve a five-year term as governor of the Bank of England.
Mark Carney will serve a five-year term as governor of the Bank of England. (Adrian Wyld / Canadian Press )

LONDON — Worried over its sputtering economy, the British government decided to seek outside help Monday by appointing a Canadian as the next head of the Bank of England, one of this country's most powerful unelected public posts.

Mark Carney, the chief of Canada's central bank, is to start in July as governor of the Bank of England. His new job comes with a daunting to-do list that includes keeping a lid on inflation while trying to help stimulate an economy hampered by high unemployment, skittish banks and widespread pessimism.

It is the first time since the bank's founding in 1694 that Britain has gone outside its borders to select a leader for the institution, one of Europe's most important central banks.

Carney, 47, is credited with helping Canada avoid the worst of the fallout from the global financial meltdown and recession. He was educated at Harvard and Oxford, worked for 13 years at Goldman Sachs and is chairman of the Financial Stability Board, an international banking regulatory body.

Less than five years into his seven-year term at the Bank of Canada, Carney said in August that he was not interested in the high-profile Bank of England governorship. But British officials apparently managed to change his mind with an offer that reportedly includes an annual compensation package worth nearly $1 million.

"Britain needs the very best at a time like this, and in Mark Carney we've got him," Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said in the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament.

In Ottawa, the Canadian capital, Carney told reporters he was pleased to be presented with a major career opportunity that should ensure him gainful employment through 2018.

"My term's ending [at the Bank of Canada]. I mean, I have to do something else," he said.

"It's very important for the global economy that the U.K. does well.... I'm going to where the challenges are greatest, because I'm confident that the strengths are as deep and as broad as they are here in Canada."

Carney, whose wife is British, will seek British citizenship, Osborne said.

At the Bank of England, Carney's key duty will be setting Britain's interest rates. But the job description is getting bigger because of new regulatory responsibilities that the central bank is assuming.

Carney, a collegiate hockey player, won praise for standing up last year to Jamie Dimon, the head of JPMorgan Chase, who reportedly went on a tirade against Carney during a meeting on tightening bank regulations.

His appointment Monday was successfully kept under wraps until the last minute by the British government. Although the governor of the Bank of England usually serves for eight years, Carney's term is for five years.

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