Macklem would be quieter Bank of Canada chief, no pushover

Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:34pm EST
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By Louise Egan

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The man tipped to be the next governor of Canada's central bank has the reputation of being a mild-mannered sideman to charismatic bank chief Mark Carney, but former colleagues say Tiff Macklem is a mover and shaker in his own quiet way.

As Carney prepares to leave the Bank of Canada to start his new job as head of the Bank of England on July 1, Macklem, his No. 2, has emerged as the frontrunner to succeed him.

The bank's choice of governor must be approved by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government, which will likely look to external candidates as well, but insiders say Macklem, 51, has the knowledge and experience to do the job.

Macklem, who is making a speech in Kingston, Ontario, later on Thursday, is widely respected in academic circles, has had a stellar 25-year career at the bank and finance ministry and speaks fluent English and French, Canada's two official languages.

The most glaring difference he presents to Carney - and perhaps Macklem's biggest weakness - is his soft-spoken, cautious style, which raises doubts whether he has the street smarts to stand up to big bank CEOs and lawmakers and defend central bank actions.

Carney, known for his self-confidence and hot temper, had a now famous run-in with JPMorgan Chase Chief Executive Jamie Dimon last year over tougher new banking regulations.

"He's a milder guy, very different," said Purdy Crawford, a well-known Canadian businessman and lawyer who worked with Macklem in 2008 to restructure the Canada's collapsed $30 billion market for asset-backed commercial paper.

"Tiff is maybe not as overtly ambitious as Mark is but he's nobody's push-around... He's tough but easy, he doesn't come through like a sledgehammer," he said in a telephone interview.   Continued...

Bank of Canada Governor Mark Carney (R) walks to a Senate banking committee meeting with Senior Deputy Governor Tiff Macklem in Ottawa June 22, 2011. REUTERS/Chris Wattie