That’s partly because of the way Ottawa works. By convention, the Bank of Canada communicates first and foremost through the governor, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made a point of keeping the government’s senior bureaucratic advisers hidden back stage.
But it’s also a reflection of Mr. Macklem’s personality. Unlike his current boss, who once appeared on a television talk show backed by a song by rock bank AC/DC, Mr. Macklem tends to keep the press at a comfortable distance. “He never wants accolades,” says a Bay Street banker who knows him. “That’s not what he’s about.”
Mr. Robson, whose main research interest is monetary policy, observes that quiet leaders have followed brasher ones at the Bank of Canada before, citing the selection of mild-mannered Gordon Thiessen in 1994 to replace John Crow, who unapologetically raised interest rates to crush inflation.
He also says there are other ways to inspire confidence than by force of personality. If conducting monetary policy has become more complicated, explaining it has become doubly so. Mr. Robson says he rarely has seen an economist better at helping people understand the technical aspects of central banking than Mr. Macklem. “I’ve always been impressed by the ease with which he talked about those things,” Mr. Robson says. “It takes a certain amount of confidence to be able to do that.”
Still, there’s no reason to think that Mr. Poloz or any number of top-flight economists would be incapable to doing the same. Mr. Macklem’s edge in the competition for Bank of Canada governor is that he would keep Canada in a game that has gone global.
Mr. Carney’s unique strength as a policy maker is his broad network of insiders, which he taps for real-time intelligence on the global economy and financial markets and the ongoing international effort to rebuild both.
That priceless source of information will disappear with Mr. Carney when he decamps for London later this spring to take over the Bank of England.
If Mr. Flaherty chooses to make a priority of plugging that hole, he has a natural choice, close at hand.
Tiff Macklem, senior deputy governor, Bank of Canada
He’s spent more than two decades studying the Canadian economy, has been hardened by the financial crisis, and is admired by those who work for him. Mr. Macklem lacks Mr. Carney’s ability to capture the spotlight, but after spending four years competing with his central bank governor for attention, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty might consider that a good thing.
Stephen Poloz, president, Export Development Canada
Like Mr. Macklem, he’s a well-liked and highly respected economist with degrees from Queen’s and the University of Western Ontario. Unlike Mr. Macklem, he was removed from all the hard lessons of the Great Recession, and he lacks the Group of 20 connections. Also working against Mr. Poloz is how effectively he’s run EDC. Why rock the boat?
Jean Boivin, associate deputy minister, Finance Department
He’s a rising star in Ottawa who has co-authored academic research with U.S. Federal Reserve Board chairman Ben Bernanke. He’s also very young. Mr. Carney’s selection as governor at the age of 42 was considered a surprise. Mr. Boivin is only 40. He could be governor some day, but not this time.
Michael Evans, vice-chairman and head of growth markets, Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
Goldman Sachs has a tradition of sending its top bankers to the public sector, and as a member of Canada’s gold-medal entry in the men’s eights rowing competition at the 1984 Olympics, Mr. Evans satisfies the requirement that the governor of the Bank of Canada must be a Canadian. But unlike the Goldman alumnus who currently leads the Bank of Canada, Mr. Evans never has worked in government. He also would have to take a rather tremendous pay cut. The governor’s salary tops out at around $500,000. Mr. Evans’s 2012 bonus was Goldman shares worth $10.6-million (U.S.).