Of all the qualities one hopes for in a Bank of England Governor – a brilliant mind, the courage to tell politicians they are wrong, supernatural foresight – coolness is not among them. I don’t mean coolness under pressure; clearly that helps. I mean the ability to project a hip image.
The new Bank of England Governor may well be a terrific economist. More than that, however, he is a first-rate media brand. He’s more Blair than Blair. Hell, he’s more Blair than Cameron. Last weekend, he went to the Wilderness Festival, aka ‘poshstock’, and the press seems to have taken that as proof that things are going to get better. Yesterday’s Evening Standard frontpage said: ‘Get the Carney look: the Bank of England Governor teaches British men how to dress-down in style.’ Never mind the base-rate, everyone, the new Guv wears trendy clothes and has a fashion-savvy wife (‘Eat your heart out, Dave & Sam Cam’ etc).
A creepy Carney cult seems to be emerging. Whenever he appears on TV or the radio, media-men take to Twitter to applaud his ‘communication style’. Newspapers obsess over his ‘George Clooney-like’ looks, his snappy suits, and his unstuffy manner. He’s said to make a refreshing change from the fusty old ways of Threadneedle Street.
It’s all PR, obviously. Carney arrived in this country on a wave of hype — he was the super-central banker, a man who single-handedly steered the Canadian economy away from the global slump. As Matthew Lynn pointed out in the Spectator in May, however, he may be more lucky than good. While Carney basks in the sunshine of Britain’s affection, the Canadian economy he left behind is tanking. But who cares when he looks great in shorts?
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