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New Central Bank chief to be named after budget

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New Central Bank chief to be named after budget

New Central Bank chief to be named after budget
October 09
08:41 2015

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan will wait until after Budget 2016 to nominate a successor to outgoing Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan.

Although the Minister had been expected to bring a name to Cabinet this week, the appointment process might not now been completed until the week after next.

After final interviews a week ago, the race to succeed Prof Honohan is down to Robert Watt, secretary general of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and Philip Lane, Whately professor of political economy at Trinity College Dublin.

The Central Bank post ranks among the most prestigious in the public service. In addition to running the Dame Street institution, the governor sits on the controlling council of the European Central Bank, which sets euro zone interest rates and oversees the bank’s interventions in financial markets.

Mr Watt, long considered the favourite, runs a complex organisation and has worked at the apex of policymaking within the Government system.

However, he would have to overcome any concern about returning control of the bank to a civil servant. The appointment of Prof Honohan, an academic economist, was a break from that long tradition.

Mr Watt, who was in the Department of Finance before taking command at Public Expenditure in 2011, previously worked with Indecon Economic Consultants and London Economics.

Interview panel

Prof Lane, highly regarded in economics circles, is considered a strong contender. He has a PhD in economics from Harvard and was professor of international macroeconomics at TCD before taking up his current position in 2012.

Mr Noonan is expected to meet the interview panel in advance of his decision, but not before he delivers the Budget next Tuesday.

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