The Canadian taking over at the Bank of England

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Mark Carney is a banker of some repute.
Mark Carney is a banker of some repute. Photo: Chris Wattie / Reuters

The startling announcement that Mark Carney is to be the next governor of the Bank of England sets my mind thinking: what will this Canadian be like when he takes up the role on Threadneedle Street?

First, he is a central banker of some repute, having been at the helm of the Bank of Canada since the height of the crisis in 2008 - yet the domestic banks he supervises have been relatively untouched by that crisis because of a tough regime there.

While most of his peers were accused of being caught napping (three independent reports in recent weeks levelled this at the Bank of England) Canada has been applauded.

Secondly, despite coming from a country which rarely makes the headlines (forgive me, Canadian friends) he has built an international reputation, latterly as the head of the Financial Stability Board which was set up in the wake of the crisis to bring banks around the world into line and stop another catastrophe happening which could threaten the global economy.

Third, unlike Sir Mervyn King or the man almost everyone assumed would be his successor, Paul Tucker, Mr Carney has experience outside central banking - both at Goldman Sachs in London, Tokyo and New York, as well as a secondment to the Canadian Department of Finance (like the UK Treasury).

After revelations that Goldman Sachs bet against its own clients, the name no longer gilds a person's CV in quite the way it did but the insight on motives and pressures gained from that side of the fence is useful.

Fourth, Mr Carney is a great communicator. I met him briefly, earlier this year and have heard him speak at events at the World Economic Forum in Davos where he impressed me as a plain speaker: calm, engaging and effective; liked - even by the bankers in the room he sought to regulate.

When he appeared to rule himself out of the Bank of England job some months ago, the credible story was he saw his future as an elected politician.

As the appointed, not elected, governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney inherits a job which in the coming months will become even more powerful than before as the Bank assumes regulatory powers as well as guiding the economy.

Some may argue it is a poisoned chalice: Britain's economy is in the doldrums, monetary policy is running at extraordinary, experimental levels, and recently its very independence has been called into question (see this excoriating blog by the FT's economics editor, Chris Giles).

Certainly Mr Carney will is taking on a tough task.

Internally, his appointment will have ruffled some feathers - especially those of Paul Tucker, whose career has taken him to within reach of the top job but who may decide not to carry on as deputy governor under the new man. Upheavals may follow at other levels.

Externally, he will have to convince those who have never heard of him that Britain's economic management is safe in his hands. The signs are he will find that part easy, at least.