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Mark Carney fuels IMF job speculation by refusing to rule it out

Oscar Williams-Grut
Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, smiles as he speaks at a press conference. Photo: Matt Dunham/AFP/Getty Images

Bank of England governor Mark Carney fuelled speculation that he is eyeing the top job at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after refusing to rule it out.

Carney was asked if he wanted the role at a press conference following the publication of the Financial Stability Report on Thursday. He skirted the question but did not rule out taking the position.

“I think we need to respect the process here,” Carney told journalists. “There’s a process to confirm [Lagarde at the European Central Bank] and then there’s a process to select her successor. There’ll come a time when that process is launched and that would probably be the right time to answer that.”

He also praised current IMF chief Christina Lagarde, saying she is “extremely well suited for [the ECB] at these times.”

READ MORE: Mark Carney tipped to replace Christine Lagarde at the IMF

Last week Lagarde was nominated to take over as the new head of the European Central Bank (ECB) in October. Lagarde was due to remain at the IMF until 2021 and her surprise ECB nomination has created speculation about who will replace her.

Carney has emerged as an early front runner. The Bank of England governor is due to leave office in January 2020, meaning the timing works well. He is also seen as having the requisite international experience for the role.

The IMF is a global bank that lends to countries and governments. It is one of the most influential non-political organisations in the world and its managing director is one of the world’s most powerful figures in both finance and geopolitics.

READ MORE: Christine Lagarde to head ECB and Ursula von der Leyen to become European Commission president

Carney is currently the favourite to take up the role, with odds of 5/1 to land the role on betting exchange Smarkets. German paper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported this week that France and Germany struck a pact to support a German candidacy, although the nations denied it. Bloomberg reported last week that European officials were also actively discussing nominating Carney for the role.

Carney said on Thursday that he was “committed to be here to have an orderly transition” and it was “an absolute privilege” to head the Bank of England.

Other names would have been mentioned as potential successors to Lagarde at the IMF include former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan and former UK chancellor George Osborne, who has told friends privately he is keen on the role.

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Oscar Williams-Grut covers banking, fintech, and finance for Yahoo Finance UK. Follow him on Twitter at @OscarWGrut.

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