Hot favourite to become the next Bank of England governor is Financial Conduct Authority boss Andrew Bailey
Philip Hammond quips that when he looks around the room at financial gatherings these days one of the things on his mind is whether the next governor of the Bank of England might be present.
The formal process of choosing the successor to Mark Carney has not yet begun but the choice of governor for the next eight years has moved up the agenda rapidly.
Of all the UK policymakers the governor is among the most listened to. Homeowners, consumers and savers all have a stake in what happens to interest rates.
It is often claimed that it is the nine-person Monetary Policy Committee that sets bank rates, not the governor, but it is his voice which really counts.
When the governor signals a change, as he did in Washington this week with going slower on interest rates, the public and the markets have no choice but to listen.
Carney has his detractors, not least among Brexiteers who felt he exceeded his authority in the run-up to the July 2016 referendum.
The truth is, in the days of political chaos which followed, Carney was the only grown-up in the room, lowering the bank rate, announcing a new round of quantitative easing and additional support for the banking system.
But having extended his time in office beyond the Brexit date of March 29, 2019, to June next year Carney is moving into lame duck territory. Much talk here has focused on who will succeed him.
Hot favourite is the chief executive of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), Andrew Bailey, formerly a deputy governor who kept the banking system safe.
Bailey plainly wants the job and it would be a pity if his chances were spoiled by association with FCA blunders, notably the efforts to keep the official report into appalling behaviour of the Global Restructuring Group at the Royal Bank of Scotland private.
Similarly, long-standing commitments to punish former HBOS bosses are still pending a decade after the financial crisis.
Bailey has shown the judgement of Solomon in punishing Jes Staley’s whistleblowing foolishness at Barclays by allowing a solid banker to stay in post.
If not Bailey then who? The current deputy governors must be considered candidates with Ben Broadbent as a respected economist, if not a natural manager, a possibility, alongside former Treasury mandarins Sir Dave Ramsden and Sir Jon Cunliffe, both well-versed in the ways of Europe.
Having tried an overseas governor in Carney the chances of an outsider next time would seem unlikely although the former IMF chief economist and Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan might be an invigorating choice.
Closer to home Sharon White, the former Treasury official currently holding the ring at Ofcom, is well-regarded.
She may suffer from a lack of practical banking experience. The same could not be said for Baroness Shriti Vadera, presently chairman of Santander UK, a Labour policy wonk who played a big role in guiding UK banking through the financial crisis.
Another experienced hand is Sir Suma Chakrabarti, currently running the ‘glistening bank’, the EBRD.
That is quite a list and one cannot fully discount former deputy governors Sir Adair Turner (a little radical perhaps) and Paul Tucker who still bears a Libor stain. In the end the choice will be made by Hammond and the Prime Minister, Theresa May.
Both have some fine qualities but neither is known for risk-taking. If that is the case then Bailey would be the obvious choice.
One strike against him might be the lack of an economics degree in an age when that qualification has become a badge of honour for central bankers.
Jay Powell who chairs the Federal Reserve in the US, after three strong academic predecessors, shares the same burden.
A big brain and practical hands-on experience might be enough.
The Chancellor is promising a crackdown on dirty money flowing through London as part of an initiative by financial leaders to weed out corruption.
But when it comes to Russian money, the so-called laundromat, Hammond sounds much more conflicted.
The claim is that our hands are tied by the EU and, in any case, most of the oligarchs in London are British citizens, so not an issue.
But once the UK comes out of Europe we will, like the Americans, be able to act unilaterally.
No more excuses.