Bank of England boss dodges IMF speculation

Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney delivers a speech at the annual Mansion House dinner in London, June 20, 2019. — Reuters pic
Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney delivers a speech at the annual Mansion House dinner in London, June 20, 2019. — Reuters pic

LONDON, July 11 — Bank of England governor Mark Carney today gave outgoing IMF chief Christine Lagarde his warm support as she heads to the European Central Bank, but evaded questions about whether he wants to succeed her.

The Canadian is due to end his posting in London at the end of January, and has been judged by bookmakers as an early favourite to take over at the International Monetary Fund once Lagarde is confirmed at the Frankfurt-based ECB.

“I do want to take the opportunity to praise the role that Christine Lagarde has played and the leadership she’s played at the IMF,” Carney told a news conference marking the publication of the BoE’s latest Financial Stability Report.

He said it had been an “absolute privilege” to serve as head of Britain’s central bank, but declined to go further on what the future might hold.

The process to pick a new IMF managing director “should be open, transparent and merit-based, so there’ll come a time when that process launches, and that’s probably the right time to answer that question.”

Carney also holds British and Irish passports, so would qualify to replace Lagarde under an arrangement whereby a European leads the IMF and an American the World Bank.

That convention has come under strain in recent years from developing economies demanding a greater say at the Washington-based institutions, although the American David Malpass was elected unopposed in April to head the World Bank.

Lagarde is leaving the IMF two years ahead of schedule after European Union leaders, at a summit this month, nominated her to succeed Mario Draghi as ECB president.

Draghi himself has been mentioned as a possible pick at the IMF.

Other names in the mix include Bank of France governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau, EU finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici of France, and former British finance minister George Osborne. — AFP

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