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Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney speaks during a news conference upon the release of the Monetary Policy Report in Ottawa July 20, 2011. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)
Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney speaks during a news conference upon the release of the Monetary Policy Report in Ottawa July 20, 2011. (CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS)

Carney touted for top global banking job Add to ...

Credited with steering Canada through the last global financial crisis, Mark Carney is now being touted as the man best suited to help the world avert another one.

The Harper government is pushing for the Bank of Canada Governor to be the next chief of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), the group charged with co-ordinating the overhaul of international banking regulations on behalf of the Group of 20 nations.

It’s a key job, particularly now amid such market turbulence and fears that a default by Greece could ripple through the financial system. Mr. Carney’s clash last month with Jamie Dimon, the chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., highlighted the tension as G20 leaders move to deliver on plans for a regulatory makeover that they promised at their summit in Pittsburgh two years ago.

Observers warn that the more time that passes, the more difficult it will be to muster political enthusiasm for technical changes, no matter how crucial they are to preventing a repeat of the 2008-09 crisis. The financial industry is lobbying furiously to scale back those reform efforts.

Ian Lee, a business professor at Carleton University in Ottawa who is also a former banker and a close follower of global financial issues, said the fact that Mr. Carney is neither European nor American would help him push his views without any appearance of conflict. And the flare-up with Mr. Dimon, to which Mr. Carney responded by blasting less-reform-minded bankers in a speech days later, demonstrates his toughness.

“This is truly the global stage, so it’s going to take somebody of his fortitude, of his backbone, of his intellect, of his education, of his experience, to be able to go toe-to-toe and say, ‘I am not backing down,’’’ he said.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty confirmed Monday that he is actively promoting Mr. Carney for the job, saying the central bank chief is “highly qualified.”

Unlike other central bankers, as head of the FSB Mr. Carney would attend all G20 leaders’ summits like the one coming up next month in Cannes, and as such would have an even bigger profile in the world’s leading economies for years.

Mr. Carney could not be reached, but a government official told The Globe and Mail that Mr. Flaherty is putting his name forward on the assumption that he would be able to continue at the Bank of Canada, where he is in the middle of a seven-year term that ends in 2015.

Mario Draghi, the current FSB head who leaves next month to become president of the European Central Bank, has approached the FSB job as a part-time add-on to his duties as governor of Italy’s central bank.

An FSB official said the group is consulting with several candidates, according to reports.

Morris Goldstein, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington, said that if chosen, Mr. Carney - a former Goldman Sachs investment banker who has shown a willingness to call out his former peers if he feels they are balking at needed reforms - would “bring the right mix of experience and toughness to the job.’’

And, while Mr. Carney would have to take the views of all countries into account and would not necessarily side with his home country's authorities on matters, having a trusted Canadian at the helm could be beneficial, said former finance minister and prime minister Paul Martin.

“A successful and well-functioning global financial system is absolutely essential for Canada’s economic well-being, and therefore we would benefit enormously,” he said, declining to comment on whether the role should be a full-time position.

Mr. Carney also has backing on Bay Street.

“I’ve seen Mark Carney represent his views on key issues confronting the financial sector in international settings,” said Rick Waugh, head of Scotiabank, calling Mr. Carney “thoughtful and astute.”

With a report from Grant Robertson and Tara Perkins in Toronto

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