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Coffee House

Wanted: superhuman central banker

14 September 2012

3:03 PM

14 September 2012

3:03 PM

The race to replace Sir Mervyn King started today when an advert searching for the next Bank of England governor appeared in the Economist. It wasn’t a particularly exciting start to the race: William Hill has named Paul Tucker the favourite to succeed Sir Mervyn. He is currently 7/4 to get the job.

Tucker is the deputy governor of the Bank currently, and based on his job title alone, the odds would hardly be surprising. But remember that this is the man who made a meal of his appearance before the Treasury Select Committee in July, uttering the strange phrase that ‘we thought it was a malfunctioning market, not a dishonest one’ when it came to suspicions about manipulations of Libor. It says a great deal about the other candidates that Tucker came out top. Those are: Mark Carney at 5/2, Adair Turner at 3/1, Gus O’Donnell at 5/1, Stephen Green and John Vickers at 10/1, John Varley at 14/1 and Kate Barker, Douglas Flint and Peter Sands at 20/1.

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Alistair Darling rather tactfully suggested on Newsnight yesterday that ‘I would ask the government to make sure they look around the world’ when hunting for the next governor. He said:

‘And I think we need the very best because frankly this is going to be a huge job, not just here but if you look at what’s going on with the new European banking system, this is going to require something of a superhuman, and I’m not sure we’ve got that many in this country.’

Tucker has shown superhuman qualities of survival, given how roundly his performance over the Libor scandal was condemned. But the best sort of superhuman would be one who had the power to see crises and scandals coming, or at least the power to pick up on fairly clear signs that something was going wrong.

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