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Mark Carney positions himself as contender for IMF top job

The Guardian logo The Guardian 11/07/2019 Larry Elliott Economics editor
a man holding a wine glass: Mark Carney has been cited as a potential candidate to replace Christine Lagarde as the IMF’s managing director. © AFP/Getty Images Mark Carney has been cited as a potential candidate to replace Christine Lagarde as the IMF’s managing director.

Mark Carney has positioned himself as a contender to be the next head of the International Monetary Fund after refusing to rule out joining the race to take over from Christine Lagarde.

The Bank of England governor has been widely cited as a potential candidate to replace Lagarde as the IMF’s managing director after her nomination to head the European Central Bank.

Asked whether he would be interested in moving to Washington when his six-and-a-half-year stint at Threadneedle Street ends next January, Carney said he wanted to wait for the formal appointment process to begin before answering the question. 

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“We need to respect the process here,” Carney told reporters as he presented the bank’s financial stability report. “She [Lagarde] has been nominated to be president of the ECB and that’s obviously a critical role, not just for Europe but for the world. And she’s extremely well suited to it for these times.

“But there’s a process to confirm that. Then there’s a formal process to select her successor. And that process, as per the good governance advice of the IMF, should be open, transparent and merit based. So there will come a time when that process launches and that’s probably the right time to answer that question.”

Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England arrives at the start of a Financial Stability Report press conference at the Bank of England in London on July 11, 2019. - Bank of England governor Mark Carney on Thursday gave outgoing IMF chief Christine Lagarde his warm support as she heads to the European Central Bank, but evaded questions about whether he wants to succeed her. (Photo by Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read MATT DUNHAM/AFP/Getty Images) Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England arrives at the start of a Financial Stability Report press conference at the Bank of England in London on July 11, 2019. - Bank of England governor Mark Carney on Thursday gave outgoing IMF chief Christine Lagarde his warm support as she heads to the European Central Bank, but evaded questions about whether he wants to succeed her. (Photo by Matt Dunham / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read MATT DUNHAM/AFP/Getty Images)

By an agreement stretching back 75 years, the Europeans get to choose the managing director of the IMF while the US picks the president of its sister organisation, the World Bank. Carney is a Canadian by birth but also holds British and Irish passports. This week France and Germany denied reports that they would support a Carney application for the IMF job.

A Briton has never been in charge of the IMF since it was founded in 1944 and the chance of a UK appointment is complicated by the Brexit process, which will be coming to a head at the same time as Europe has to decide who to nominate to replace Lagarde. Discussions among EU finance ministers began this week.

Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England drinks water during a Financial Stability Report news conference at the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain July 11, 2019.  Matt Dunham/Pool via REUTERS © Thomson Reuters Mark Carney the Governor of the Bank of England drinks water during a Financial Stability Report news conference at the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain July 11, 2019. Matt Dunham/Pool via REUTERS

George Osborne, the former chancellor of the exchequer, has made it clear he would like the job, although the frontrunner at this stage is thought to be Bulgaria’s Kristalina Georgieva, a former European commission vice-president and currently number two at the World Bank.

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