ALEX BRUMMER: Carney takes an encore


All the candidates sharpening their CVs and interview techniques ahead of this autumn’s contest to be next governor of the Bank of England can relax.

The application process is all over for a year, and maybe two, now that Canadian-born governor Mark Carney has let it be known before the Treasury Select Committee that he is game to stay at Threadneedle Street to see through the Brexit wobbles.

The Final decision still rests on Downing Street since it is the Prime Minister, acting on the advice of Chancellor Philip Hammond, who will have the say.

Safe hands: Canadian born Bank of England governor Mark Carney has let it be known that he is game to stay at Threadneedle Street to see through Brexit wobbles

Safe hands: Canadian born Bank of England governor Mark Carney has let it be known that he is game to stay at Threadneedle Street to see through Brexit wobbles

Safe hands: Canadian born Bank of England governor Mark Carney has let it be known that he is game to stay at Threadneedle Street to see through Brexit wobbles

But the reality is that Carney has the Government over a barrel because if they were to reject his public offer it would be a new excuse for the gnomes of Zurich to sell sterling.

Carney enjoys weight in global banking because of his role in cleaning up the mess after the crisis of a decade ago when he became chairman of the Financial Stability Board. But in Britain the latest episode will do little to cure his image as an unreliable boyfriend.

Initially he said he would only serve one five-year term to 2018 because greater things lay ahead for him in Canada or possibly Washington. 

Then he agreed to hang on until the end of June 2019 to see the UK past the Brexit negotiations and to suit his family circumstances. Now he is changing his mind again by seeking an extension.

There are those such as arch Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg who would prefer that he hadn’t bothered, arguing the governor aligned the Bank too closely with ‘Remain’ during the referendum campaign and that his Bank has been too negative on the economic consequences of Brexit.

Carney might have been better advised to spend less time on TV and focus more on the Bank’s role as ‘lender of the last resort’ as outlined by Walter Bagehot in his seminal work Lombard Street: A Description Of The Money Market. 

Indeed Carney’s finest moment came in the hours after the EU referendum result in 2016 when amid chaos in politics and on markets he announced an interest rate cut, more quantitative easing and special assistance to the banks potentially heading off the technical recession of which he had warned.

The debate will go on about Carney’s changes of mind on interest rates, his Brexit gloom and personal factors which have led to his volunteered decision to stay on.

In the US Janet Yellen’s willingness to serve another term at the Fed made no impression on Donald Trump at all.

In the context of where the UK is now on Brexit, it is the correct thing. It will be better for stability. Carney and the Bank have also become powerful advocates for making sure that the City and its contribution to a services export surplus of £85bn are nurtured.

Now that he is an almost permanent resident, some critics argue that it might be time to sacrifice his annual housing allowance of £250,000 a year.

But in the context of the trillions of foreign currency and derivatives contracts that change hands in the Square Mile each day that would look a little churlish.

Radio times

The defections of Eddie Mair from BBC Radio 4 to LBC and Chris Evans from Radio 2 to Virgin Radio suggests that in spite of the public broadcaster’s £3billion budget it is facing serious challenges from commercial radio.

LBC is part of Global Media & Entertainment chaired by former ITV boss Charles Allen and owns a slew of stations including Capital and Classic FM.

As for Virgin Radio, it is not controlled by Sir Richard Branson (as the name might suggest) but by News Corporation, the publicly quoted arm of the Murdoch family empire which is not being sold off to Disney or Comcast.

The Murdochs have long been willing to pay top dollar for the best media assets such as Premier League football which launched Sky into orbit.

In rescuing Evans from the top of his mountain, Virgin Radio’s parent is signalling a new phase in the remaking of a media monolith.

Hipster hunt

New WPP boss Mark Read’s solution to the advertising colossus’s woes: tempt more millennials away from Silicon Valley and move HQ to the trendy Sea Containers building on London’s South Bank. Brilliant.

One remembers hearing the same kind of tosh from M&S when it moved from Baker Street to Paddington in West London.

Sales have fallen ever since.

 



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