Is Mark Carney the only Canadian capable of saving capitalism?

BoC Governor ranks 20th on the FT economic influence list


Is Mark Carney the only Canadian capable of saving capitalism?

Declaring that the international economic mess amounts to “first stress test of globalization,” The Financial Times of London has published a list of the leaders who are supposed to save capitalism.

I find the FT’s “Fifty Who Will Frame the Way Forward” list compulsive reading. (But then I also can’t resist browsing through lists of Best Movie Comedies and Best Rock Guitar Solos.)

It’s no surprise that the FT’s “guide to people who will shape debate on the future of capitalism” assigns U.S. President Barack Obama its top slot. Who else?

Not a single Canadian politician made the list, and that shouldn’t be a given: in previous eras, a free-trader like Brian Mulroney or a deficit-slayer like Paul Martin very likely would have rated. But the current government doesn’t offer up a figure whose economic policy track record demands particular respect, or whose way of talking about the moment’s challenges commands special attention.

More surprising is the absence of Canadian business figures from the roster. Given the accolades Canadian banks are receiving these days, for simply not requiring bailouts, I would have thought Royal Bank CEO Gordon Nixon might have made the cut.

The sole Canadian on the list, in 20th position, is the fascinating Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of Canada. (I write a bit about him in the issue of Maclean’s to be published tomorrow.) Here’s what the FT has to say about him:

“The youthful Mr. Carney continues the tradition of impressive Canadian governors. With a doctorate in economics, 13 years at Goldman and six as an official attending international meetings, he is well placed to understand the pressures of both banking and regulating.”

It’s a good thumbnail. Carney’s mix of solid investment-banking background and a few years of top-level public service experience, should give him a balanced perspective on what markets might need and what governments can do.

Does he really stand alone, though, as the top Canadian figure in the debate about the future of capitalism? That might be getting ahead of an unfolding story, but I do contend that he is the most distinctive Canadian voice on economic issues, at least on the federal government scene, to emerge out of the current crisis.


Is Mark Carney the only Canadian capable of saving capitalism?

  1. I don’t know in what sense Mark Carney belongs on this list. Mark Carney is the self-acknowledged architect of Canadian wealth destruction when his brief convinced Finance Minister Jim Flaherty (who you noted is not on the above list) to impose a surprise tax on Income Trusts. This lead to a $35 billion dollar market value lose in Canadians Pension savings. The income trust market never recovered. Mark Carney had everything to do with the Income Trust fiasco.

    And he nor the Department of Finance or the Finance Minister or the Prime Minister has never proven the tax leakage case on which this policy was based on. Instead we get this? 18 page of blacked out documents??

    I don not trust Mark Carney and his position as Bank of Canada Governor should not comfort Canadians.

    He has proved in the past he is not trustworthy and will hide facts when his policy actions cannot be proven or justified.

  2. I look forward to reading the Mark Carney piece. He’s an impressive guy and he certainly deserves to be on the FT50 list.

  3. Well Done for Mr. Carney he has cwertainly proven his mettle and has performed above and beyond.

  4. I don’t get this idea of “saving capitalism”, any more than the phrase “capitalist system”. I don’t see capitalism as a system, so much as the spontaneous result of progressive and adventurous economic activity. Nobody devised the “insurance system” or the “banking system”. These have evolved over a long time to their current state.

    Nobody devised “capitalism” either, and nobody can break or destroy it. So I doubt that anyone can save it either. Surely the FT has more interesting contributions on the current economic problems.

  5. The Jacques de Larosière Report is a fascinating read on financial oversight:


    As Viral Acharya put it “[The] report is an important contribution to the future global financial architecture, especially its proposals for reform of EU regulatory supervision and global coordination.”

  6. All I can think of is that Mark Carney looks like that Paul guy from the show Desperate Housewives.

    • Oddly enough, he does especially in this photo.
      Or perhaps I just need sleep.

  7. Well, if that assessment is actually true, that is actually pretty reassuring. I can’t think of any other place I’d like to have the most useful person to deal with the current economic situation than as the governor of the BoC. Let’s hope he is strong enough to prevent his smarts from being pressured by anyone, and let’s hope he can steer this bear through the china shop. Good luck, Mr. Carney.

  8. I like my CFO’s explanation of why Canadian banks don’t need a bailout.

    A lot of the economic activity in Canada takes place in US dollars. The banking system takes a big bite in every currency conversion, usually between 2 & 3 percent. Transfer Cdn$100 from a Cdn$ account to a US$ account in the same bank, and you will have only 94 or 95 Canadian dollars left.

    And that is a lot of money.

    • Its amazing how much money Cdn banks make from transaction fees, ATMs, brokerage commissions, currency exchange spreads, and other charges. Retail banking is such a lucrative cash cow that it can weather almost any economic storm.

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