Canada Day is not usually celebrated with widespread enthusiasm in the City of London, let alone the rest of Great Britain, but the arrival at the Bank of England of Mark Carney, the former governor of the Bank of Canada, for his first day on the job as Governor at the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street, has been awaited as if it were the Oscars.
Putting partisanism aside, Alistair Darling, the most recent Labour Party chancellor of the exchequer (British for “finance minister”) has warmly endorsed the choice of his Conservative successor, George Osborne: Mr. Carney is a desperately needed “modernizing new broom.” The Guardian newspaper predicts “sweeping regime change.” The Daily Telegraph says that in Canada Mr. Carney rose to “near-messianic status.” And the Daily Mail quotes the director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, John Longworth, saying, “The Bank of England has the opportunity to take real action under Mark Carney’s leadership to entrench the recovery and secure our future competitiveness.”
The lead of The Independent’s story begins, “Hailed as the ‘outstanding central banker of his generation’ ” (a quotation from Mr. Osborne, not attributed here). But its editorial, after opening by saying he has “the central banking equivalent of rock-star status,” sagely – and mercifully – warns, “Do not expect too much of Mr. Carney.” And the prudent, salmon-pink Financial Times had a long, balanced article on Mr. Carney on Friday, saying that, at the Bank of England, “Nervousness and paranoia mark the mood as much as excitement.”
Less may be at stake than in 1694, when the Bank was founded, in the reign of William of Orange, to finance the British-Dutch wars with France but, after all, stardom has its privileges.
Happy Carney Day and Happy Canada Day, too.