The UK academic economist Jonathan Haskel has been appointed by the Chancellor as the latest external member of the rate-setting committee of the Bank of England.

Haskel, currently a professor of economics at Imperial College Business School and a specialist in innovation and productivity, replaces Ian McCafferty on the Monetary Policy Committee from 1 September.

Mr McCafferty has consistently been one of the more hawkish members of the MPC, voting in May against the majority, in favour of raising interest rates to 0.5 per cent.

The Bank refrained from raising rates to see whether its belief that the slump in UK growth in the first quarter of 2018 is only a temporary soft patch is vindicated.

The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, said on Thursday: “I am delighted that Professor Haskel is joining the MPC. I am confident that his expertise in productivity and innovation will further sharpen the Committee’s understanding of the British economy.”

That was echoed by the Bank’s Governor, Mark Carney, who said: “His broad academic experience and the depth of his knowledge on productivity and innovation will be hugely valuable to the Committee as we seek to promote the good of the people of the United Kingdom by maintaining monetary stability.”

However, the appointment of another man to the MPC, which currently has just one woman among its nine members, is likely to exacerbate concerns about the male dominance of the policymaking tiers of the central bank.

The Treasury said it interviewed five candidates for the position, four of them women.

Eight women applied for the vacancy and nineteen men.

Further, 87 individuals were alerted to the vacancy by the Chief Economic Advisor to the Treasury, of whom 44 were women.

One of the Bank’s deputy governors, Ben Broadbent, was forced to apologise for his “poor choice of language” earlier this month after he referred to the supposed “menopause” of the UK economy, meaning it has passed its “productive peak”

His views on UK interest rates and monetary policy are not broadly known, but he recently published a book called Capitalism Without Capital: The Rise of the Intangible Economy, which was co-authored with Stian Westlake. David Owen, chief European financial economist at Jefferies, speculated this thesis meant he may see stronger productivity growth in the UK economy than the official figures imply, suggesting Professor Haskel may be in favour of tightening policy.

 

Professor Haskel is also a non-executive director of the UK Statistics Authority. 



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