Andrew Bailey is leading the Bank of England through its most turbulent and politicised era

The new governor is flying in the dark without a map, surrounded by dodgy instrument readings and carrying some very noisy passengers in the back

Sean O'Grady@_seanogrady
Tuesday 24 December 2019 20:34
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In reality, the bank’s boss can’t do very much
In reality, the bank’s boss can’t do very much

The first thing to understand about new Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey is that he comes from Leicester, where everyone is very proud of him (especially those of us who went to the same state grammar school). He’s not Gary Lineker, granted, but still. I’d also like to think his background gives him that grounded outlook that east Midlanders are so known for.

The second thing – a bit more crucial, admittedly – is to understand that the governor of the Bank of England can’t do very much.

All the palaver about him being the most powerful non-elected figure in British public life may be true, but it raises expectations dangerously. The UK is an extremely open economy, which means it is easily buffeted by global trends that no one in the UK can influence: a downturn in China that triggers a near-recession in Germany, say – as we are seeing now. All the Bank (and HM Treasury) can do is react and use economic diplomacy to try to influence other nations. We cannot prevent revolutions or stock market crashes, or indeed predict them.

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