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Economist Poloz tapped to lead Canada's central bank

Update: May, 03/2013 - 11:44

OTTAWA – The Bank of Canada on Thursday named an economist and longtime bureaucrat, Stephen Poloz, as its new governor, succeeding Mark Carney who is leaving to head the Bank of England next month.

Poloz has worked in Canada's public service for 25 years, including since 2011 as chief executive of Canada's export credit agency, which helps Canadian exporters and investors expand their international business.

"Mr Poloz has significant knowledge of financial markets and monetary policy issues and extensive management experience," David Laidley, chair of the bank's search committee said in a statement. "We are confident Mr Poloz will make an outstanding contribution to the work of the bank and uphold its reputation as a leading central bank."

Poloz starts his new job on June 3, for a seven-year term, hinting on Tuesday at a press conference that he intends to stay the course on monetary policies set by his predecessor.

During his term, Carney lowered the bank's key interest rate to a near record low of 1.0 per cent – where it still stands in hopes of keeping the Canadian economy afloat during the worst global economic and financial upheaval in a century.

"The global economy still has its fragilities or issues that it faces, so we aren't out of the woods yet, and Canada will feel all of those shocks as they occur," Poloz said. "But I think the framework that we work with here has proved itself very well and so I think we're well equipped to press forward."

Analysts quickly noted that Poloz has otherwise not commented on monetary policy for some time and so it is hard to judge how he perceives the current central bank stance. Even so, the Bank of Canada's rate decisions are taken by consensus by its governing council and so most analysts expect rates to remain at their current levels for now.

Nomura bank analyst Charles St-Arnaud of Nomura bank commented that as chief economist at Export Development Canada, Poloz worked "intensely on the productivity and competitiveness issues that have been plaguing the Canadian economy over the past decade."

"This could be important given that the recent Bank of Canada forecast pegged a lot of hope on an export-led recovery," he said. Citing a report released by Export Development Canada, Poloz told reporters to expect "pretty strong growth" in Canadian exports in the coming year as the recovery in the United States, Canada's largest trading partner, picks up.

He also noted that since 2008 many small companies in Canada had folded. "What we're looking for now is the resumption of creation of new companies, and that is just beginning."

"So the supply side of the economy is also in a rebuilding phase," he said. A native of Oshawa, Ontario, Poloz graduated from Queen's University in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in economics, and subsequently received a master's degree and a PhD in economics, both from the University of Western Ontario. He worked for Canada's central bank from 1981 to 1995, occupying increasingly senior positions including chief of the research department. He then spent five years with Montreal-based BCA Research before returning to the public sector.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty pointed to Poloz's decades of experience in financial markets, forecasting and economic policy, to say: "I am confident he has the skills and experience required to lead the Bank of Canada at a time of global economic uncertainty." Poloz said his appointment as the central bank's ninth governor was both "an honor and a privilege."--AFP

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