Huw Pill has been appointed to succeed Andy Haldane as the Bank of England’s chief economist, becoming the latest Goldman Sachs alumnus to fill a key role at Threadneedle Street.
Despite reports that the Bank had been looking to increase its diversity by appointing a woman or someone from a minority ethnic background, it ended a lengthy selection process by announcing that Pill had been chosen and would take up the position next week.
The Bank had hired diversity consultants to help find a replacement for Haldane, who announced in April he was leaving to take over as the chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts thinktank.
But the appointment of Pill, a senior lecturer at the Harvard business school, means the Bank’s nine-strong monetary policy committee – which sets interest rates – remains all white and has just two women.
The job of chief economist is the one MPC post appointed by the Bank itself rather than by the Treasury, and the final selection from a shortlist was made by Threadneedle Street’s governor, Andrew Bailey, and one of his four deputies, Ben Broadbent, himself a former Goldman Sachs economist. Bailey’s predecessor as governor, Mark Carney, also worked for the US investment bank.
Less than two months ago Bailey pledged to do more to tackle systemic racial inequality after a hard-hitting review found the 327-year-old Bank of England was failing to do enough to promote diversity.
Pill will report to Broadbent, who said he was delighted by the appointment. “His breadth of experience across monetary policy, economic research and financial markets will be invaluable to the Bank and the MPC,” said Broadbent
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David Blanchflower, a former MPC member, said he was underwhelmed by the appointment, tweeting: “Am I wrong doesn’t ex-Goldman Huw Pill seem awfully like ex-Goldman Ben Broadbent? What happened to diversity?”
Bailey said: “Huw will make a major contribution to monetary policy – and to the broader work of the Bank. I greatly look forward to working with him.”
After leaving Oxford in the late 1980s, Pill began his career at the Bank of England between 1990 and 1992, the period of the UK’s ill-fated membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, which ended on Black Wednesday in September 1992. He subsequently worked at the European Central Bank for nearly two decades before a seven-year stint at Goldman Sachs as chief European economist, ending in 2018.
Pill said: “It is a great privilege to rejoin the Bank and have the opportunity to contribute to the work of the MPC and the Bank more broadly at what remains a challenging time for monetary policy and central banking.”