Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Monument Securities Stephen Lewis confirms there is no 'superman' to be next Bank of England governor

In an earlier post, I noted that by adding bank supervision and systemic risk management to the monetary policy responsibilities of the Bank of England's governor, the search for a replacement for Mervyn King was now focused on finding superman.

Please note the diverse skill sets the Governor will need.  Not only will they need to be a big picture thinker who is comfortable with abstract economic theories, but they will also need to be detail oriented.  
Big picture thinking is needed for monetary policy and a detail orientation is needed for bank regulation and supervision. 
If the history of Federal Reserve chairmen shows anything, it shows that you can have a big picture thinker or a detailed oriented operator, but you cannot have both in the same individual. 
Not only does the Governor need to be a big picture thinker who is detailed oriented, but the Governor also needs to be a good systemic risk manager.  The Governor has to be able to separate what is the source of risk to the financial system from what is a symptom of the risk. 
An example of this would be understanding that opacity is why structured finance securities brought down the financial system and not that the securities held high risk assets. 
Yet another skill set the Governor will need is to be a politician. 
It was gratifying to have Monument Securities' Stephen Lewis, a classmate of Mervyn King, confirm my observations about the search for superman and that superman does not exist.

From a Bloomberg article,

“I’m sure he’d be very reluctant to give up the monetary- policy role, but the next governor will have to stand back a little,” Lewis said in an interview today. “Mervyn enjoys getting to grips with the economic-policy issues, but the future governor won’t have the luxury of time to get involved with the debate at that level of detail.”... 
In a note published today, “All Change at the Bank,” Lewis said the government may struggle to find a suitable candidate for Bank of England governor. 
“There is despair in some quarters over finding an individual who might be capable of undertaking all the responsibilities of the office,” he said. “There almost certainly is no-one highly-skilled at fashioning monetary policy, who also has an excellent grasp of regulatory issues and has the air of authority and the charisma to argue the bank’s case successfully in public.”

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