City: National hunt

SITUATION vacant; Governor of small central bank in run-down Northern European democracy. Pay: modest by City standards. Compensating status and total job security. Perks: small Cheapside flat with view of St Paul's, chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. Little responsibility, delightful working conditions, short hours, sumptuous dining facilities, subsidised mortgage. Banking experience not essential. Houdini-like qualities in the face of sustained criticism a strong advantage. Clearing bank chairmen need not apply.

I'm kidding, of course. None the less, the hunt for a successor to Robin Leigh- Pemberton as Governor of the Bank of England is beginning to look an increasingly desperate affair. Certainly the names being floated by Ladbrokes, and the odds attached to them, don't give much cause for confidence. Sir David Walker is the evens favourite, presumably because, as a Bank of England director, he would at least be a safe and uncontroversial choice. Then comes Eddie George, the present deputy Governor. But he's been tainted, unfairly, by the BCCI affair and Black Wednesday, and that probably rules him out. Third favourite is Sir Christopher Hogg, an accomplished chairman of Courtaulds and Reuters but, as far as I know, completely lacking in banking experience.

The same goes for Sarah Hogg. She never stood much more than a snowball's chance in Hades. The ERM crisis, with which she is identified as head of the No 10 Policy Unit, must have finished it for good. Another favourite is Sir Dennis Weatherstone, presently chairman of JP Morgan in the US. Ah, now there's a name, but even if he were not ruled out of court by the fact that he recently took US citizenship (which I gather he is), he'd have to be mad to want to swap JP Morgan for the Bank of England. Personally, I'd still put my money on Sir David Scholey, chairman of SG Warburg. He's been relegated to a 12-to-one outsider by Ladbrokes as a result of accepting a directorship at GEC - the theory being that he would not have agreed to such an appointment without being promised the chairmanship. It's only a theory and my guess is he'd still take the Bank of England job if it were offered to him. He's certainly far and away the most suitable candidate.

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