Profile: Mervyn King

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Mervyn King is a former economics academic who rose through the ranks at the Bank of England to be given its top job.

The governor is a fan of Aston Villa football club and a former pupil of Wolverhampton Grammar School and is generally well regarded in the City, though the Bank's handling of the Northern Rock crisis has been the subject of heavy criticism.

Mr King came under fire for his decision to pump £10 billion into money markets just a week after saying central banks should not bail out markets in trouble, and faced a grilling on the Northern Rock crisis from the Treasury Select Committee.

Like his predecessor, south Londoner Sir Eddie George, Mr King is not the stereotypical pinstriped suit-wearing executive.

He grew up in Wolverhampton, although he was born in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, and has kept in touch with his roots.

It is said he first wanted to study physics and cosmology, the origins of the universe, at university but switched to economics and found his niche.

The 59-year-old Cambridge graduate also studied at Harvard in the US and later taught at both universities before becoming professor of economics at the London School of Economics in 1984.

By 1990 he was a non-executive director of the Bank and a year later became its chief economist and an executive director.

Mr King was deputy governor from 1998 to 2003 before taking up the top job, and reportedly said about the Bank: "When I came here, I had no intention of staying more than two or three years.

"But the change came when we left the exchange rate mechanism and then there was a real challenge. And the ability to contribute to that and to build something rather special in the Bank was a tremendous challenge."

His personal interests are said to include keeping fit by playing tennis and listening to classical music.