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OTTAWA, March 28 (Reuters) - The search for a new Bank of Canada chief to replace Mark Carney has pitted internal front-runner Tiff Macklem against a range of external candidates as officials look outside the bank for people who may have more hands-on business experience.
Most central bank watchers believe Macklem, currently second-in-command at the bank, has outstanding credentials and deserves to take over when his boss leaves.
But hints by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty that he is searching outside the Bank of Canada, and the institution's history of surprise appointments, have opened up a very speculative field of possible contenders.
Others note that both Carney and his predecessor, David Dodge, had leapfrogged over more obvious governors-in-waiting.
Flaherty has said he is looking for someone like Carney, a former Goldman Sachs banker and aggressive regulator who raised Canada's global profile after the financial crisis and now heads the international Financial Stability Board, which is working on ways to prevent banking sector crises like those that triggered the financial crisis of 2008.
A special committee of the bank has completed its interviews of candidates, who must be Canadian citizens, and is producing a short list for Flaherty to interview. An announcement is likely in late April, after the federal cabinet approves the final candidate.
Carney is leaving on June 1 to take over as governor of the Bank of England on July 1. His exit will leave the Bank of Canada's governing council without any direct private-sector experience.
Ottawa may want to fill that void, or it may simply want to show that it has done its due diligence, argued one senior bank economist who said the recruiting agency handling the hiring process, Odgers Berndston LLC, contacted him a few weeks ago in search of more names.
"They want to be able to tell the public they've evaluated all the potential candidates," he said, declining to give his name because of the sensitivity of the issue.
Here is a list of possible candidates, based on interviews with financial markets players, academics and officials. Unless otherwise stated, none of those named would comment on whether they had applied for the job:
Macklem, 51, has spent the past 25 years at the Bank of Canada and the Canadian Finance Ministry. He has been the central bank's senior deputy governor since July 2010. He has a reputation for academic research and became head of the bank's research department in 2000 at the age of 39.
Macklem was the G20 deputy at the Canadian Finance Ministry throughout the 2008 financial crisis, and he played a key role in domestic and global crisis management.
In Canada, he helped fix a credit crunch in the commercial paper market and played key roles in the auto sector bailout and purchases of insured mortgages from banks. Internationally, Macklem was chairman of a committee of the Financial Stability Board - the G20's financial reform task force - whose job it is to monitor implementation of agreed reforms.
Macklem is quieter and soft-spoken compared with the charismatic and notoriously aggressive Carney, and insiders say he has a less confrontational style.