Mark Carney used his last speech as Bank of Canada boss to remind us all how the country got a lot of things right under his watch, and that the country can't afford to "rest on our laurels" as the economy chugs along.
For years, economists, market strategists, journalists and other observers paid close attention to Carney's every comment and speech to get clues about the bank's views on the Canadian economy and where monetary policy here is headed.
In this regard, language is huge and Carney's speech on Tuesday dropped a tiny hint the bank's bias remains the same: “stimulus will be withdrawn appropriately as threats diminish,” which could be read to suggest that the next move will be up rather than down as he's been signaling for a while.
But otherwise Carney's speech juxtaposed a recessionary Europe and all the problems there against Canada, a country that weathered the financial storm rather nicely in comparison. It included a list of things to highlight why Carney thinks "Canada Works" -- which was fittingly the title of his speech -- as he hands over the reins to Stephen Poloz, known for his role as the head of Canada's export credit agency.
He also used the speech to ding alarm bells about soaring household debt levels and the housing market, noting Canada needs to rely less on consumer borrowing as a source of economic growth. More focus should be on business investment and exports, says Carney, without elaborating too much. But, hey, that can be a project for incoming Poloz.
Carney starts his new job at the Bank of England on Canada Day, and below are a few ways in which he'll be remembered.
Banking rock star
Surely the kid from Fort Smith, N.W.T. has transformed the stuffy world of central banking forever. When has another Canadian central banker been dubbed young, good-looking, charming and wicked smart by Time Magazine? That 2010 most influential people ranking seems to be a bit of a double-edged sword, though. In a press conference following his speech on Tuesday, he found himself pushing back on several questions that alluded to him being perhaps too much of a rock star and a one-man show. Carney stressed the work of central banks is all about team efforts.
Carney, who spent more than a decade at Goldman Sachs, caused a stir when he accused Canadian companies of sitting on piles of "dead money", and that they should invest it or return it to shareholders. He also made headlines when he got into a public spat with Jamie Dimon, the head of JP Morgan Chase & Co., over banking regulation.
When it comes to public relations, it appears the Time Magazine ranking helped Carney hit his stride. There are few bad photos of him on the Internet. He is often well-dressed and polished, and whether it's cracking a joke, rolling his eyes or laughing during a press conference or other public event, it always seems perfectly timed. In press conferences, he's fairly friendly with the media, but isn't afraid to publicly shoot them down either. Wonder how well he'll fare under the scrutiny of U.K. media? Stay tuned, we'll soon find out.