Paul Tucker, the Bank's deputy governor and the only Threadneedle Street insider considered a frontrunner for the job, seemed to have blotted his copybook earlier this year when he was forced to appear before the Treasury select committee to explain his role in the Libor-fixing scandal.
Barclays executive Jerry del Missier quit the bank after apparently mistakenly concluding from an email sent by his boss, Bob Diamond, that Tucker had sanctioned the bank's massaging of its borrowing costs downwards. Diamond then resigned under pressure from Sir Mervyn King, and emails showed that Tucker had referred to the disgraced Barclays boss as "a brick".
Yet he survived his grilling without making a fatal slip-up; Diamond himself refused to pin the blame on him; and the deputy governor continues to be valued for his rare blend of central banking experience and City nous.
He won't have done himself any harm, either, by publicly agreeing with the chancellor – and disagreeing with King – last week that the Vickers commission proposals are the right way to fix the banking system. However, he's unlikely to mention in his interview his secondment to ill-fated bank Barings in the mid-1980s, where he advised on the privatisation of British Leyland.
Sir John Vickers
An economist to his fingertips, Sir John Vickers is a Bank of England veteran – as chief economist and a member of the monetary policy committee – who went on to run consumer regulator the Office of Fair Trading for five years from 2000.
His most recent role was chairing the Vickers commission on the future of the British banking system. Depending on your point of view, his recommendations were either a masterful exercise in the realpolitik of regulation or a lily-livered whitewash – but, fortunately for Vickers, George Osborne falls into the former camp, as he made very clear when he appeared before the parliamentary commission on banking standards last week.
Vickers would be a supreme "safe pair of hands" at the Bank, though he shares with King the intellectual self-confidence and tendency to express himself in wonk-speak that has infuriated some of the current governor's detractors over recent years.
Lord Turner of Ecchinswell, cerebral head of the obsolescent Financial Services Authority, has made little secret of the fact that he would like to succeed King when the Bank of England gets back its powers to supervise the City next year.
A former director general of the CBI, Turner's stint at the FSA has also given him experience of running a large organisation and plenty of contact with the policymaking establishment. He has made a series of important speeches on the role of banking in the economy and the failings that led to the financial crisis since he took over the FSA at the height of the credit crunch in September 2008.
Perhaps most memorably, he voiced the concerns of many observers of the shenanigans in the Square Mile when he said that much of what goes on there is "socially useless". But more recently, Turner has been slapped down by King for appearing to flirt with the idea of "monetising" the government's debts – a radical idea rejected by Bank purists. He has also recanted his previous enthusiastic support for Britain joining the single currency, a campaign he spearheaded in his CBI days. After King – in consultation with Turner – called in Barclays' chairman Marcus Agius and urged him to oust Diamond, questions were also raised about whether Turner himself lacked the killer instinct that will be required to bring the banks to heel.
Reserve Bank of Australia
Australia's central banker, Glenn Stevens – like Canada's Mark Carney – is one of the few senior policymakers on the world circuit whose record is untainted by a major financial crisis at home. In a recent speech, he insisted that Australia was not just a "lucky country" but had regulated its banks better than others in the runup to the crisis, enabling them to emerge from the Great Recession largely unscathed.
Stevens also has the background as a serious academic economist that would be essential in steering the monetary policy committee's deliberations and sifting the mountains of data provided by the Bank's army of number-crunchers. However, even if Osborne and Cameron want to see a shakeup in Threadneedle Street, they may feel that a complete outsider with no experience of the Bank and how it operates would struggle to implement change on the scale necessary.
Liberal Democrat MEP
Sharon Bowles has admitted that she was urged to apply for the Bank job and whizzed in a last-minute application amid concerns that there were too many middle-aged men in suits on the shortlist. As chair of the European parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee, she has plenty of political experience, negotiating the byzantine bureaucratic processes that make Brussels tick and rubbing shoulders with senior policymakers.
Bowles has worked closely on new legislation aimed at curbing the power of the financial markets, and she has also recently fought to see more women involved in economic policymaking at the European Central Bank – an institution just as resolutely male as its English counterpart.
Despite her political nous, though, Bowles freely admits that she is a lawyer rather than an economist, and she also perhaps lacks the talent for single-minded self-promotion that appears to propel many of her rivals for the post. From Downing Street's point of view, too, the fact that she is a Liberal Democrat, at a time when coalition relations are fractious at best, may count against her.
AND THE FALLERS …
Lord O'Donnell – former press secretary to John Major, co-author of a book with Ed Balls, permanent secretary to the Treasury, economist and consummate civil servant – has ruled himself out, and has recently used his new-found freedom to criticise government policy on immigration.
A clutch of British bankers, some long mooted for the post, also now look politically impossible to appoint, as regulators continue to uncover misdeeds from the glory days before the financial crisis. Peter Sands, boss of Standard Chartered, appears to have been ruled out after the bank he runs was involved in an embarrassing spat with New York regulators, which dubbed it a "rogue institution"; John Varley ran Barclays when it was fiddling Libor; and two HSBC hands, Douglas Flint and ex-CEO Stephen Green (now a trade minister as Lord Green), apparently failed to crack down on money-laundering activities at the bank's US arm.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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