Leadership you can bank on

Two Western alumni – one in Canada, one in Australia – have been tapped to head the national banks of their respective nations, setting economic direction in the two countries for the next several years.

Stephen S. Poloz, MA’79 (Economics) and PhD’82 (Economics), has been named Governor of the Bank of Canada for a seven-year term, starting June 3, bank directors announced today. Poloz succeeded Mark Carney, who left the bank on June 1.

“After pursuing an exhaustive domestic and international search to find the best candidate for this important and challenging role, the board ultimately found such an individual in Stephen Poloz,” said David Laidley, chair of the Special Committee of the Board of Directors. “Mr. Poloz has significant knowledge of financial markets and monetary policy issues and extensive management experience.

“We are confident Mr. Poloz will make an outstanding contribution to the work of the bank and uphold its reputation as a leading central bank.”

A native of Oshawa, Ont., Poloz received a master’s degree in Economics in 1979 and a PhD in Economics in 1982, both from Western. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Queen’s University in 1978.

Upon graduation from Western, Poloz considered an academic career, but a summer job at the Bank of Canada persuaded him that policy-making should become his vocation. He joined the bank full-time and earned increasing authority during 14 years, rising to chief of the research department. He returned to Western every year to recruit fresh talent for the bank, Poloz told the Alumni Gazette in a 2011 article.

Eventually, however, he concluded he’d have a better shot at policymaking if he broadened his experience.

He spent five years with Montreal-based BCA Research, an independent provider of global investment research, where he was managing editor of its flagship publication, Bank Credit Analyst. “It taught me to incorporate into my economic thinking what’s going on in the financial markets,” he said.

In 1999, he joined Export Development Canada (EDC) as its chief economist. Poloz’s mission, he said, was to “give EDC’s economic analysis and forecasting a visible presence in the marketplace, to contribute to its brand. EDC Economics had a space of its own, devoted to international economics. We saw ourselves working as Canadian consultants to Canadian companies.” He was appointed EDC president and chief executive officer in January 2011, a position in which he served until his appointment as Governor of the Bank of Canada.

Halfway around the world, Australian Reserve Bank Governor Glenn Stevens, MA’85 (Economics), received a three-year extension to his original seven-year term, set to end Sept. 17, just three days after the election.

Stevens’ “intellect, integrity and calm leadership have been critical to the on-going strength of our banking system and our economy more broadly,” said Ian Narev, chief executive officer of Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA), the nation’s biggest lender. “We all benefit from his willingness to serve another term.”

Stevens was one of six central bankers given a top grade in a 2012 ranking by Global Finance magazine based on their ability to control inflation, achieve growth goals, maintain a stable currency and manage interest rates. It was the fourth straight year he received an ‘A’ in the evaluation.