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Internal restructuring and a recent personnel reshuffle at the Bank of England may grant more room for hiring a new chief economist more focussed on research than management, with two possible internal candidates now likely to have been ruled out after taking other senior roles.
While some observers had thought the BOE would seek a more managerial chief economist to replace Andy Haldane, who is stepping down, the Bank's recent appointment of long-serving insiders to head its Monetary Analysis and Communications divisions could lighten the supervisorial load for Haldane's successor. This leaves more room for candidates such as independent MPC member Silvana Tenreyro, who has a reputation as an economist but less experience leading teams, MNI understands.
The reshuffle also meant that Jamie Bell, the Bank's former director of monetary analysis who now takes charge of communications, is no longer a contender for the economist role. Nor would his replacement at monetary analysis, Fergal Shortall, seem a likely pick.
Another possible candidate, MPC member Gertjan Vlieghe, now seems all but out of the race after the announcement this week of his replacement by former Citi and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Chief Economist Catherine Mann starting in September. Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak made a point of thanking Vlieghe for his service, in words whose valedictory tone did not suggest any imminent reappearance in a new role.
Together with Tenreyro, other possibilities to replace Haldane cited by analysts and media have included the Confederation of British Industry's Rain Newton Smith, top Treasury official Clare Lombardelli and National Institute head Jagjit Chadha, all of whom have worked as BOE economists. Multi-award winning economist and capital flow specialist Helene Rey, together with her London Business School colleague Lucrezia Reichlin, can be added to a list of plausible candidates.
But Lombardelli was on the Treasury selection committee which chose Mann, which could raise questions might suggest she is not currently if she was in the running for a BOE job. It might also be uncomfortable for the Bank, which itself chooses the chief economist, to appoint another senior Treasury official to a top role at a time when concern is building that the government could pressure it to keep debt costs down. It already has one Treasury alumnus in a top job, Deputy Governor Dave Ramsden.
Previous appointees have come from within its ranks, as in the case of Haldane and Spencer Dale, or directly from academia as occurred with Charlie Bean. This time, the BOE is under pressure to boost diversity, with all members of the current MPC white males other than Tenreyro.
Mann will add to those on the MPC who, like Tenreyro and Ben Broadbent, place great weight on developments overseas, particularly in the U.S. Broadbent has championed the view that the UK is a price taker in global asset markets, while Tenreyro has addressed issues such as the implications of dollar dominance. Mann has spoken frequently about Fed policy.