Goldman Sachs economist Broadbent is latest man to join MPC

Ben Broadbent's appointment may be good news for those opposed to higher interest rates. If not for equality campaigners.

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
An interesting change at the Bank of England's Monetary Police Committee: Ben Broadbent, an economist at Goldman Sachs, will replace Andrew Sentance from June. Since Sentance has been arguing for several months that we need an interest rate hike, while Broadbent has seemed much less convinced about the idea (at least in public), the consensus is that this could change the complexion of the committee, in terms of making an imminent hike less likely. Although it won't change its physical complexion - it continues to be a pale male preserve...

Broadbent's credentials are impeccable, of course. His employer Goldman Sachs may have seen its fair share of controversy in the last couple of years, but it continues to be a money-making machine admired (if not always liked) by its peers. And Broadbent himself has earned an excellent reputation both in the public and private sector from his musings on the UK economy - which has, interestingly, included several broadsides at the MPC's handling of the situation. Could make for some awkward conversations for the new boy over tea and biscuits in June...

One notable point about his appointment, however, is that it means the nine-strong MPC is still entirely made up of men - an unfortunate fact at the best of the times, but particularly on International Women's Day. The Treasury is clearly sensitive about this, because it made a point of mentioning that only one of the 27 applicants for the post was female (an Italian-born academic, who apparently made it to the final round) - and although it insisted it 'would like to see a greater number of women apply for future appointments', there might not be another opening until the summer of next year at the earliest.

Of course, it's dangerous to read too much into the interview shortlist for one particular job. And the Bank is absolutely right to appoint the best-qualified candidate, regardless of gender. If that person was Broadbent - even he is in the employ of a bank famously referred to as 'great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity' - then fair enough. Either way, it'll be interesting to see if his arrival - or, perhaps as importantly, Sentance's departure - results in any noticeable change to the committee's stance...

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