December 06, 2019

Poloz to Step Down as Canada Central Bank Governor in June
(Bloomberg) -- Explore what’s moving the global economy in the new season of the Stephanomics podcast. Subscribe via Apple Podcast, Spotify or Pocket Cast.Stephen Poloz, who resisted this year’s global rush to cut interest rates, won’t seek a second term at the helm of the Bank of Canada when his mandate ends in June.Poloz informed the central bank’s board of directors and Finance Minister Bill Morneau of his decision, according to a statement Friday from the bank.“It has been a privilege to serve as the ninth Governor of the Bank of Canada,” Poloz, 64, said in the statement posted to the bank’s website. He called his job at the bank, which began in 2013, “the most fulfilling of my long career.”The governor is preparing to leave the central bank with its 1.75% benchmark interest rate among the highest in advanced economies. Poloz -- who was among the few central bankers to raise interest rates in 2017 and 2018 as the nation’s economy began to fully recover from the last recession -- has been reluctant to reverse course, citing a relatively robust expansion and concerns that lower borrowing costs could fuel the nation’s already high household debt levels.“The issue of course is we’re at a very delicate point in time for the Canadian economy,” Brian DePratto, senior economist at Toronto-Dominion Bank said by phone. “The Bank of Canada is balancing growth concerns versus financial stability concerns. Certainly they’ve been emphasizing the latter quite a bit in my view in the recent communication.”Since Poloz came to power, Canadian household debt has increased by more than half a trillion Canadian dollars and remains near record high levels as a share of disposable income, which will almost certainly act as a millstone for growth for years to come. Bank of Canada officials cited the nation’s economic resiliency in the face of global uncertainty when they defended their decision this week not to follow the Federal Reserve in cutting rates.Though Poloz wasn’t expected to stay for a second term, he had indicated it was an option. His decision to step down means replacing him becomes one of the first orders of business for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose Liberal Party won a second term in government after a divisive election in October.Early front-runners include the governor’s chief deputy, Carolyn Wilkins, who would be the first woman to take the job. Wilkins would offer the smoothest transition, particularly given how Poloz has elevated her role of Senior Deputy Governor under his watch to one that is more prominent than usual for the job.Wilkins, 55, oversees the central bank’s strategic planning and economic research, is involved in high-level Group of 20 and Financial Stability Board meetings, and is overseeing the review of the central bank’s inflation mandate, which will be renewed in 2021. Wilkins also fills in for Poloz once a year as chair of the Governing Council -- the group of policy makers that decides on interest rates.Jean Boivin, the head of BlackRock Inc.’s research unit, is also being touted as a stronger contender. He was considered an economic whiz kid when Bank of England Governor Mark Carney, then Bank of Canada governor, recruited him from academia as an adviser a decade ago. Boivin, currently based in London, would be the first francophone to run the central bank.Another potential successor is Tiff Macklem, dean of the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, who left the bank after a long tenure after he lost his bid for the top job at the central bank in 2013 to Poloz. Among other names circulating as potential candidates include Paul Beaudry, who joined the Bank of Canada earlier this year as deputy governor; Evan Siddall, head of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.; and Paul Rochon, the current deputy minister of finance.Poloz’s announcement comes amid a period of turnover atop the world’s major central banks. Christine Lagarde just replaced Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank, while Carney is set to step down from the Bank of England in January.Under Poloz’s watch, borrowing costs were kept near the lowest levels in the central bank’s eight-decade history. That ultimately kept the economy afloat long enough for one of the fastest increases in jobs and probably the largest accumulation of wealth in the nation’s history, as cheap money inflated the value of real estate and financial assets.By some measures, Poloz has been one of Canada’s most successful central bankers ever: the country is closer to a state of full employment and stable prices than at any time since the 1960s.But his efforts to return the economy to full health, where it’s not reliant on low interest rates, housing and debt, ultimately fell short as Canada grappled with the lingering effects of the last recession and wrestled with a litany of new headwinds including a once-in-a-generation collapse in commodity prices and the impacts of global trade tensions.\--With assistance from Cedric Sam.To contact the reporters on this story: Theophilos Argitis in Ottawa at targitis@bloomberg.net;Shelly Hagan in ottawa at shagan9@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Theophilos Argitis at targitis@bloomberg.net, Chris Fournier, Stephen WicaryFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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