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Sideways: Spencer for governor of the Bank of England!

Michael Spencer, founder of brokerage firm Icap

First, the growing likelihood that Boris Johnson will be the next UK prime minister led to speculation that his former adviser, Gerard Lyons, could be in the frame for the top slot at the BoE. 

Lyons is an experienced economist who knows the City well from stints at banks including SBC, Dai-Ichi Kangyo and Standard Chartered. He is also an advocate of Brexit, who shares Johnson’s breezy optimism about the ease with which the UK economy will overcome any obstacles created by leaving the European Union.

Lyons lacks executive experience – at a central bank or elsewhere – which would normally preclude him from consideration for running the BoE. But these are not normal times, which explains why his name is in the mix, along with more conventional candidates such as Andrew Bailey, head of the Financial Conduct Authority, and Raghuram Rajan, former governor of the Bank of India.


There was a recent report that Chris Giancarlo, the outgoing chairman of the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission, would be interested in the Bank of England job. Giancarlo will leave his current position in mid July, so he is available. He is an Anglophile who was thrilled to be awarded the freedom of the City of London at a ceremony in the Guildhall in June.

He took the opportunity to give a speech extolling the strengths of the City of London that could have been delivered by Johnson in his days as mayor and can perhaps be seen as an audition for the position of governor of the Bank of England. 

If Spencer proved willing to spend a few years steering the UK between the Scylla of recession and the Charybdis of inflation, then surely his service would finally merit a title 

Giancarlo has also made little secret of his disdain for continental European regulators compared with their UK counterparts, which could endear him to the likely next prime minister.

He remains a long shot for the job, nevertheless. He is a lawyer by background, not an economist, and his main experience before taking over the US derivatives regulator (which is one of the many overlapping financial supervisory agencies in the country) was working for the brokerage firm GFI.

The idea of hiring an American from the rough and tumble world of bond and FX broking would have been laughed out of the court of directors of the Bank of England, at least until recently. But even if we reject as outdated snobbery the exclusion of a candidate with a background as a broker, surely Johnson can find a better option closer to home.

British success

Step forward Michael Spencer, founder of brokerage firm Icap and former treasurer of the Conservative party. Spencer is an unalloyed British success story, who is worth around £1 billion in the wake of the sale of his share in NEX to CME Group last year. 

He has had his brushes with notoriety, such as the involvement of some Icap brokers in the Libor fixing scandal. But Johnson is no stranger to controversy himself and would surely relish the chance to spend more time with Spencer, whose taste in fine wine and generosity are renowned. 

Euromoney has already highlighted the injustice of denying Spencer the aristocratic title he craves and so richly deserves. An appointment as governor of the Bank of England would present an opportunity to finally right this wrong. 

If Spencer proved willing to spend a few years steering the UK between the Scylla of recession and the Charybdis of inflation (like Johnson, he is a lover of classical allusions), then surely his service would finally merit a title.

Even if the job specifications for governor are evolving in these uncertain times, the tradition of awarding a title to the outgoing head of the Bank of England is unlikely to be abandoned. 

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