King Overhauls BOE Staff in ‘Fishing Ground’ for Policy Makers

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King
Bank of England Governor Mervyn King gestures during the bank's quarterly inflation report news conference at the Bank of England in London on Nov. 16, 2011. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The Bank of England is overhauling the leadership of its economics unit as Governor Mervyn King and Chief Economist Spencer Dale put in place a new crop of officials who may be picked for future policy roles.

The revamp that began yesterday is focused on managers in Dale’s department, which produces forecasts, statistics and economic analysis, according to the central bank’s website. The officials changing position or assuming new roles are Robert Woods, James Bell, Neal Hatch, Phil Evans and Chris Young.

The staff changes come as King and Deputy Governor Charles Bean approach the final year of their terms, and the central bank prepares to take on new regulatory powers over financial institutions. The overhaul is at the head of division level that has in the past been a talent pool for promotion to the bank’s Monetary Policy Committee.

“They’re the up-and-coming people,” said Jens Larsen, chief European economist at RBC Capital Markets in London and a former head of division who left the Bank of England in September 2010. “That’s the natural fishing ground for an internal promotion up to the MPC level.”

Woods, an official on secondment from the U.K. Treasury, will replace Evans as head of Conjunctural Assessment and Projections from March 26. Evans will leave the division in May. Chris Young on March 19 will take over Macro Financial Analysis, the role previously held by Woods.

James Bell moved from the press office to become head of Structural Economic Analysis, replacing Hatch. Bell started his role yesterday.

The Bank of England declined to comment on the changes within Dale’s Monetary Analysis and Statistics department or provide further information.

‘Talented People’

All of the positions report to Dale, who was head of Monetary Assessment and Strategy from 1999 to 2000 and led Conjunctural Assessment and Projections from 2000 to 2006. He then left the bank for a secondment at the U.S. Federal Reserve before returning to become chief economist.

Deputy Governor Paul Tucker, a favorite among economists to replace King as Governor, was head of Monetary Assessment and Strategy from 1997 to 1998. Paul Fisher, now the bank’s markets director, led the projections team from 1995 to 1999.

“It’s the baton being passed to the next generation,” said Richard Barwell, economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London and a former central bank official. “These are some of the most talented people the bank’s got, and they’ve all made their name under Spencer.”


Bean’s term as deputy governor finishes at the end of June 2013. King is scheduled to leave that same month after serving the maximum two five-year terms allowed. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and Treasury officials will begin the search for King’s successor starting next month, with the aim of making an announcement later this year, a government official with knowledge of the matter said last month.

The staff involved in the latest changes may help provide continuity after King retires and the bank assumes its new powers from the Financial Services Authority, according to David Tinsley, an economist at BNP Paribas in London.

“Mervyn and Charlie have been at the helm of the bank for so long now that the people below them would represent the choices they’ve made,” said Tinsley, a former Bank of England official. “These are people who’ve delivered the goods, and the decision makers are above them. I wouldn’t expect a new governor to make changes at that level.”

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