British government appoints its top economist Bank of England deputy

LONDON (Reuters) - The British government’s top economist will move to the Bank of England to serve as one of its most senior policymakers, joining the central bank as it steers the financial system through political negotiations to leave the European Union.

FILE PHOTO: A man stands outside the Bank of England in the City of London, Britain April 19, 2017. REUTERS/Hannah McKay/File Photo

Dave Ramsden, a senior Treasury official who sits in on BoE rate-setting meetings and is in charge of economists across the government, will become the BoE’s deputy governor for markets and banking on Sept. 4, the finance ministry said on Thursday.

The 53-year-old replaces Charlotte Hogg, who resigned in March after a parliament committee rebuked her over her failure to declare a potential conflict of interest about her brother's role at Barclays BARC.L.

Ramsden’s arrival comes as the BoE tries to judge the outlook for the economy as the country prepares to leave the European Union. Before last year’s referendum - when it was still government policy to stay in the EU - Ramsden produced a report predicting recession if Britain voted to leave.

Analysts and former policymakers welcomed Ramsden as a seasoned addition to the BoE, although the move from the finance ministry to the Bank after a career at the Treasury raised some eyebrows.

“While this should be useful, rightly or wrongly it could raise questions about BoE independence,” HSBC economist Chris Hare said.

The move might also rekindle concerns about the lack of women in senior roles at the BoE, despite its decision on Thursday to appoint acting chief operating officer Joanna Place on a permanent basis.

Governor Mark Carney described the lack of female MPC members as “striking” when he started in 2013.

Four years later, newcomer Silvana Tenreyro is the only woman serving on the nine-person committee, after three female appointees left within six months for various reasons.

The BoE’s Financial Policy Committee, which regulates banks and insurers and on which Ramsden will also serve, has no women.


Ramsden joins the MPC in the unique position of having already attended more of its policy meetings than any current serving member, as he has been the government’s regular observer since before the financial crisis.

He has also been involved in the appointment of a number of his fellow MPC members.

As a current Treasury official, Ramsden’s views on monetary policy are not clear. But he is well-known to London analysts as president of a professional association, the Society of Business Economists, and as someone who explains Treasury policy to bond investors.

“This is the guy who does the hiring for the MPC and is head of the government economic service. He is very well placed to do the job given what he has been doing in recent years,” Nomura economist George Buckley said.

“He’s been very tight-lipped when it comes to monetary policy. Even on fiscal policy ... he communicates the government’s and the (Office for Budget Responsibility’s) view.”

David Owen, an economist at Jefferies, said that “rightly or wrongly ... (he) will be considered a dovish appointment”.

In a 2013 interview, Ramsden stuck to the government’s line at the time that the BoE had room to support the economy during cuts to public spending.

He also emphasised the role of good communications in the way central banks shape market expectations, according to the text of the interview with the Civil Service Quarterly blog.

Ramsden was the lead official on the finance ministry’s analyses on the consequences of Brexit before last year’s referendum, which Brexit supporters criticised for predicting a recession.

He also led the finance ministry’s work on whether Britain should join the euro between 1999 and 2003 under former Chancellor Gordon Brown, who is widely credited with dissuading then-Prime Minister Tony Blair from doing so.

Editing by Larry King