LONDON (MNI) – The deadline for job applications to replace Bank of
England Monetary Policy Committee member Andrew Sentance expires on
Monday and those handling the process say interest in the position is
Sentance, who alone voted for a rate hike from last June through to
December, leaves the MPC at the end of May with his successor’s term
expected to commence on June 1.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will be responsible
for choosing a successor. Some well-qualified and high-profile names
from the academic and financial fields are in the frame.
In addition to advertising in The Economist, the Treasury has
emailed potential candidates for the post, which pays a basic stg131,771
a year. The official at the head of the selection process is Dave
Ramsden, the Treasury’s Managing Director of Macroeconomic and Fiscal
Policy, although the final say will rest with Osborne.
Economists pointed out that the change of government in May could
have opened the door to some candidates who were, for one reason or
another, not popular with the former Labour administration.
The current Conservative administration has, so far, only made one
MPC appointment – Martin Weale. Weale, a former Cambridge academic and
head of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, was long
seen as a likely MPC member but was never picked under Labour but was
then promptly appointed by the Conservatives.
It is understood that former Chancellor Gordon Brown vetoed Weale’s
appointment. When asked earlier this year about whether that was the
case and why he thought it had happened, Weale said that he did not know
and that would be better to put that question to Brown.
Well-established academics mentioned by fellow economists as
potential MPC recruits this time around include Simon Wren-Lewis, a
professor at Oxford University, with a speciality in macroeconomic
models and exchange rates.
Wren-Lewis has carried out plenty of advisory work for the
Treasury, including assessing the tests for euro entry, and the BOE,
where he has been an external advisor on its core macromodels.
Another Oxford professor well known in the Treasury is John
Muellbauer, who has come up with plenty of controversial work on the
Muellbauer would certainly shake things up – he argued in one paper
“the econometric models used by central banks and the mind-set they
represent have contributed to policy failings in dealing with the global
Another UK based economist who is highly regarded among peers is
John Llewellyn, whose CV boasts a decade at Cambridge University
followed by 17 years at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development (OECD) where he was in charge of international economic
forecasting and became chief of staff and 14 years at the top of Lehman
Brothers economics team.
People who have worked with Llewellyn, who now runs his own
consultancy, say he would be a superb choice but question whether he
would want the position.
There is also speculation the Treasury could seek to break up
the current male monopoly on the committee.
High up the list of potential female members is Vicky Pryce, a
former Joint Head, along with Dave Ramsden, of the UK Government
Pryce has just moved to the private sector, as managing director at
finance consultancy firm FTI.
Sheila Dow, a professor at the University of Stirling, who has
advised the Treasury Select Committee, is another possible.
Lucrezia Reichlin, former director of research at the European
Central Bank and presently a professor at the London Business School,
could well be another who is in with a chance.
When Weale’s job was advertised, out of 38 applicants, just four
Interviews are expected to take place in the week commencing 14
February 2011. The successful candidate will be announced at the end of
February 2011 and the appointment is expected to commence on 1 June
This timetable suggests that the Treasury will be in a position to
make an appointment announcement well ahead of the end of Andrew
Sentance’s MPC term.
The open competition for the post these days is in contrast to the
secrecy which marked former Chancellor Gordon Brown’s approach to MPC
appointments. Under Brown appointments to the MPC tended to be a long
drawn-out process and commentators found some of his later selections
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