The decision to advertise the post of Governor of the Bank of England as if it were just any old public-sector position has provided a certain amount of amusement. It won't be very funny if the decision to "modernise" the recruitment process results in the wrong man or woman being handed the keys to the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street because the right one didn't apply.
Would Lord O'Donnell or the Goldman Sachs economist Jim O'Neill have been serious contenders for the role had the appointment been handled in the traditional manner, with the preferred candidate being tapped up for the role by a senior civil servant? Perhaps not.
But it is clear that they aren't serious contenders now because neither has filled out the required application form and submitted the names and addresses of two referees.
The problem with jobs like this is that the right candidate sometimes needs their arm twisting to get them to sign on the dotted line.
Take Martin Wheatley, who will become head of the new Financial Conduct Authority. He was contemplating a summer in the company of his family before turning his mind to the question of what next before Lord Turner was able to change his mind.
We may all have cause to be thankful for that. Mr Wheatley's review into Libor interest rates in the wake of attempts by traders to fix them was a strong start to his tenure, and bodes well for the future. But had the position been advertised, he almost certainly wouldn't have applied.
Of course, it may well be that the Chancellor, George Osborne, who with David Cameron will have the final say on who gets the job, knew exactly whom he wanted before setting the process in train. And knew that this person would apply. Which renders the decision to solicit applications through an ad in The Economist as little more than a laughable PR exercise.
If Messrs Osborne and Cameron really wanted to modernise the way this vital position is filled, they would have allowed Parliament to hold confirmation hearings, as is the case with similarly important roles in the US. That would have enabled the preferred candidate's suitability to be tested in public and perhaps shone a welcome light on to the process of their selection. Which is exactly what our leaders wanted to avoid and the reason why we are watching the current charade play itself out instead.
Timely intervention on BAE, EADS may save day
One voice that has been curiously absent from the increasingly heated conversation over BAE Systems' attempt to merge with the European aerospace group EADS has been that of the defence contractor's owners.
That's changed with the intervention of Invesco, the biggest investor in BAE, which has let it be known that it is less than impressed with the deal.
Invesco has long been of the view that a major reason for the lowly rating of BAE's shares is that BAE's management have been overly concerned with making deals to the detriment of the business and shareholders' dividends.
It fails to see the commercial logic of a transaction that would appear to put those dividends under threat, before you even get to the vexed issue of governance and the political interference in the combined group that nobody believes will end even if the French and Germans can be persuaded to reduce their shareholdings.
Invesco has gone public, having expressed these points to the company's management only to be ignored. Plus ça change, as the French might say. This is a deal governed as much by the ambitions of the bosses of both companies, by the fortunes they hope to make, the jobs they want to keep hold of, the politicians they want to keep at arm's length, as it is by hard-headed commercial logic.
And Invesco has made it clear that the flaws with the merger are not purely political.
Political issues still remain the biggest impediment to getting a deal done. It is very hard to see an agreement being reached that couldn't later be reneged upon when the dust has finally settled.
However, Invesco and other City fund managers could yet prevent that from happening. If big investors say no, or nein, or non to BAE's management in the interests of the clients who buy their funds, and regardless of the politics, it might help to demonstrate that the concept of "stewardship" is not a completely alien one among the City's leading institutions.
Michael Page a victim of short-term measures
A job for life? These days you're lucky if you get six months.
One of the reasons recruiter Michael Page took such a battering yesterday is that its business is heavily dependent on installing people in permanent jobs. Faced with an uncertain global outlook, firms are cutting back on those in favour of temporary contracts which they don't need to renew if the economic environment takes a turn for the worse.
With no end in sight to the global malaise we may have to get used to a world in which in any one year people get six months here, three months there, and have a rather nice garden to show for the remaining three months of forced inactivity.
Two profit warnings in a year indicates that Michael Page is going to have to wake up to this unpleasant reality.
Steve Ingham, the chief executive, can't help the economy, but he's going to need to act quickly if he doesn't want shareholders to start asking whether it's time to turn the page on him. He's done a good job building the company up, but memories are short in the City. Another trading statement or two like yesterday's and there's a danger that he'll move from the head of the headhunter's executive committee to the head of its client list.Reuse content