David Blanchflower: I suspect that the list of those who want to do it is going to be very short
This is a really important job that most people wouldn't touch
Friday 05 October 2012
The advert for the next Governor of the Bank of England is unlikely to be a game changer. It seems rather unlikely that there is some secret candidate out there that nobody knows about who would see the advert and think "that's the job for me".
I assume that the Treasury has hired a firm of search consultants who are secretly running around the world speaking to people like Tim Geithner, the US Treasury Secretary, who is giving up his job in January, whether President Obama wins or not. He was the president of the New York Fed, and had a permanent vote on the Federal Open Market Committee, and so knows a thing or two. He would actually be a great choice, but he is likely to have lots of other well-paying options that may well look better.
I do speak though from personal interest here, as I am hoping he takes the job as Dartmouth College president, after he appointed our last president, Jim Kim, to the head job at the World Bank a few months ago.
There are a couple of other Ivy League president's jobs going too, at Princeton and Yale, and these are likely better paid than the Bank of England job. We don't know the salary, but Sir Mervyn King was making just over £300,000, which is well below a US university president's salary – plus they get a house.
A good place to look for who is the frontrunner is at Paddypower, which has Paul Tucker at 6/4 favourite; Adair Turner at 3/1; Gus O'Donnell at 11/4; Mark Carney at 11/2; Jim O'Neill at 7/1; and Harry Redknapp at 1,000/1.
I have written many times that I just don't think Tucker is up to the job and doesn't even have a postgraduate degree; he just doesn't have the smarts, and did not even spot the oncoming financial crisis. His fumblings over the Libor have made him look like a buffoon.
It is also clear that the Bank of England has not performed well during the crisis, and a new brush is needed to sweep the place clean after the tyrannical years of Sir Mervyn.
That said, I do think there is one very exciting internal candidate who might well be great at the job, and that is Andy Haldane, who has many original ideas and is obviously really smart.
Turner and O'Donnell seem viable candidates; we are going to hear from Turner at a speech next week on his views on how he thinks the Bank of England can help us to get out of this mess. He has made it known that he favours more non-conventional monetary policy.
At some point Gus O'Donnell has to tell us what he is for: it seems unlikely he can just fall into the job as the Jim Hacker candidate. Does he actually want the job?
Jim O'Neill may be a runner, although not being Oxbridge – he has a PhD from the University of Surrey, where I used to teach, and a First degree from Sheffield – and being a Man Utd fan may count against him.
I understand the job is actually Sir John Vickers' if he wants it – he does have significant, economic credentials, and was chief economist at the BoE, but he has a pretty nice job already, as warden of All Souls College at Oxford University, that he may well be reticent to give up.
This is a really important job that most people wouldn't touch with a 10ft pole. I suspect the list of candidates who want to do it and are acceptable to Cameron and Osborne is pretty short. I suspect they aren't going to call me.
The author is a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee and economics professor at Dartmouth College in the US
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