Brexit Vote Was BOE Governor Carney’s Worst Day at the Office

  • Britons opted to leave the European Union in June referendum
  • Carney revealed childhood nicknames ‘Carnage’ and ‘Carnival’

The night of Britain’s European Union referendum result was the toughest moment of Bank of England Governor Mark Carney’s career and policy makers “absolutely” got their response right, he said.

Answering questions from school children at an event hosted by the BBC in Coventry, in the U.K.’s West Midlands, Carney said he felt a “tremendous responsibility” to keep the financial system functioning as it became clear that Britons had voted to quit the bloc on June 23.

The governor said he napped for about two hours before watching the first results on television and going to the BOE’s Threadneedle Street headquarters in London at around 3:30 a.m. to help oversee its operations and coordination with central banks around the globe.

“My reaction was to make sure that the big fat plan that we had was being put in place,” Carney said. “It’s our responsibility at the BOE to be prepared for these contingencies. We had everybody in the financial world focused on the event and we had to get it right. It’s interesting, it’s exciting, it’s important and we did absolutely get it right.”

The governor said a large number of countries want to trade with the U.K. after it leaves the trading bloc and opportunities are “very large” with new technology enabling smaller firms to do more business overseas.

Trade Strengths

“Most countries want to trade with the U.K.,” he said. “You can be a small firm of three-to-five people based here and you can sell around the world. That’s increasingly going to be the case and that’s tremendously exciting. It really plays to the strength of the U.K. because this is a really, truly innovative country.”

In a wide-ranging session, he also revealed his childhood nicknames were “Carnage” and “Carnival” -- saying he preferred the former as it was “more manly” -- that he likes the confectionery bar, Dairy Milk, his favorite food is pizza, his favorite film is Gallipoli and that his guilty pleasure is watching the television show “The Great British Bake Off.”

With U.K. interest rates at a record low 0.25 percent, Carney also had a message for savers in his response to the question of what advice he would give his younger self.

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“I always tried to save something of what I earned, even if just for discipline, and I would have taken some of that money and I would have put it in some sort of equity fund, something that wasn’t just a pure savings vehicle,” he said. “It’s not a bad thing when you’re young to have something that will grow, something that is higher risk. You’ve got a long life so you can ride out that risk.”

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