Lea Paterson, a former economics editor at the Times newspaper, became the Bank of England’s most senior female monetary policy official this week as she took charge of its quarterly report for economic forecasts.
Paterson began work on Sept. 10 as head of the Inflation Report division, replacing Gareth Ramsay, a spokesman for the central bank in London said. Paterson, who joined the bank in 2004 after four years in her prior post at the London-based Times, is the first woman to hold that role.
“It’s a very interesting time to be doing the job,” Paterson said in an interview yesterday. “We’re in the most challenging economic circumstances any of us will ever see.”
The Inflation Report incorporates projections for inflation and economic growth that the Monetary Policy Committee, led by Governor Mervyn King, uses for policy decisions. Of the seven times the central bank has expanded its quantitative-easing program since it began in March 2009, four have occurred the same month as the forecasts are published.
“It is one of the most important roles,” said Richard Barwell, an economist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc and a former Bank of England official who reported to Paterson. “Her job is to bring the comments of committee members and the work that’s being done by the bank together, for what is the central bank’s flagship publication.”
Paterson will be the only woman out of seven division chiefs in the Monetary Analysis and Statistics department run by Chief Economist Spencer Dale, according to the central bank’s website. Her promotion extends a revamp of that part of the bank that has now seen more than half of those managers change jobs this year.
The Bank of England hasn’t had a woman on its rate-setting panel since Kate Barker left in 2010, and most of its leading managers are men. The highest-ranking female manager is Human Resources Executive Director Catherine Brown. Among other senior female managers are Gill Hammond, director of the bank’s Centre for Central Banking Studies, and Victoria Saporta, who is in charge of prudential policy.
In Monetary Analysis, Venetia Bell has been promoted to lead analysis of U.K. data for policy makers. Bell will replace Robert Wood after he left to join Berenberg Bank this month.
Paterson, a mother of three who recently returned from maternity leave, was previously deputy head of the division, a post once held by former Labour Cabinet minister Ruth Kelly and has also held a number of positions within Monetary Analysis. Before joining the bank she had a career in journalism, first at the Independent newspaper, and then for the Times, where she was economics editor from 2000 to 2004. She studied at the London School of Economics.
The central bank will release its next Inflation Report in November, when King will hold a press conference. The MPC increased its target for bond purchases by 50 billion pounds ($80 billion) to 375 billion pounds in July and kept that target at its meeting this month.
The European Central Bank has no female policy maker. The European Parliament last week postponed consideration of the nominee for the ECB’s Executive Board, Yves Mersch of Luxembourg, to protest the absence of female candidates. That will delay filling the post, which has been vacant since June, for at least another month.
Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who chairs the group of euro-zone finance ministers, said that there’s no new candidate for that vacancy and there can be “no question whatsoever” of ministers suggesting one, Luxembourg newspaper Tageblatt reported today.