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.

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