Whoever replaces Mark Carney as governor of the Bank of England will, according to
The Guardian’s Larry Elliott, need to have four attributes: "The economic acumen of a Keynes, the diplomatic skills of a Metternich, the political cunning of a Machiavelli and the hide of a rhinoceros."
Where is such a paragon of virtue to be found? The answer might be influenced by the decision of chancellor Philip Hammond (who may not be in charge when a decision is taken in October) to hire Sapphire Partners, a head-hunting firm.
Run by an all-female management team, which claims 60 per cent of the executives it has placed over the past four years have been women, Sapphire’s participation has inspired rumours that the Bank of England’s first foreign governor, Canadian Carney, will be succeeded by its first female one. Shriti Vadera, the chair of Santander UK; Janet Yellen, the former head of the US Federal Reserve; and Minouche Shafik, the director of the London School of Economics, have all been suggested.
More traditional candidates are Sir Jon Cunliffe, the bank’s deputy governor; Ben Broadbent, its deputy governor for monetary policy; and the bookies’ favourite Andrew Bailey, the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority.
Economists polled by Bloomberg favour Raghuram Rajan, a professor at the University of Chicago, who ran the Reserve Bank of India, as the bank’s 121st governor. But the Financial Times explicitly queried whether "post-Brexit Britain is not deemed too hostile (read racist) to accept an Indian-born man in high office".
The appointment of Rajan, Yellen or any other foreigner might also, in these politically toxic times, be seen either as an unpatriotic snub for – or damning indictment of – the British banking industry.
Of course, if this recruitment process were being conducted 20 years from now, the government might want to consider an AI system. A recent survey by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology estimated that there was a 50 per cent chance that AI would be better at everything than humans by 2062.
If anything, that might be underestimating AI’s progress: Google’s Deep Mind subsidiary has developed a system that, 10 years faster than predicted, can beat humans at go, the far-eastern strategy game. Technologically, it is possible that AI could run the Bank of England within the next 50 years. Politically it seems unlikely, even though it might be the candidate most likely to fulfill Elliott’s criteria.
Image credit: WPA Pool / Pool/ gettyimages