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Dear Mr Carney,
Welcome to London and your job as governor of the Bank of England. What took you so long? You were appointed last November; we have been on tenterhooks ever since. Incidentally, glad to see that you got a proper send-off: the Canadian papers reported that your farewell bashes cost $30,000. Please bring some of that joie de vivre to your new employer. It is the gloomiest institution in the City.
First, apologies on behalf of those Brits who have banged on about your housing allowance. It is not the size, exactly – £250,000 will not go far in Mayfair. But house prices are what Britons talk about when they talk about class. (You lived in London in the 1990s, so you probably have sussed that by now.) And the house price index is one of the few UK indicators that actually point up these days. We're not totally useless!
We don't want much from you, really. Just fix our economy. Mend our banks. Make inflation come down. Make salaries go up. Print more money. Print less money. Make the trains run on time. (Just kidding on that one.) Make Britain great again. (Wait a minute. Wasn't that Sebastian Coe's job?)
It is a curious title, "governor". Your counterpart at the US Federal Reserve is a chairman, and at the European Central Bank he is a president. But they were not founded in 1694! An esteemed columnist on this newspaper has urged you to "modernise" the Bank. Get rid of the men in frock coats and uniforms (for starters). Slow! These people did not cause our financial problems. The people you need to beware are the men (mostly) who come knocking on your door, not the men (mostly) who open it for them.
Your biggest problem will be us Brits. Being governor makes you an actor in the public arena, and we love theatre. Lots of speeches at the Mansion House, appearances before parliamentary committees, interviews with the FT and on Newsnight. You will need all your Canadian cool. But that, after all, is why we hired you. And when you fail – as fail you inevitably must – it will all be your fault. That, too, is why we hired you.
Best wishes, and good luck.
The Lex column
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