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December 2, 2011

Mark Carney, banking superstar

When he retires at some distant date, Mark Carney may reflect on his legacy.

Will it be, as the headlines say, as the man who saved the global economy from greed and corruption? Or as the governor of the Bank of Canada who gave the country plastic currency to replace cotton bills?

Either way, on the international financial scene or in the daily exchange of untold millions of dollars in retail sales, the 46-year-old Carney is getting noticed.

He was already a guy to watch in the stratosphere of world banking circles, largely for his early warnings about the imminent fall of the U.S. financial houses that wrought the 2008 collapse.

Then, a few weeks ago, Carney, born and raised in the remote Northwest Territories, about as far from Wall Street or Davos as you can imagine, was named head of the Financial Stability Board, described as the watchdog of world banking.

This development prompted Canada's national news magazine to put Carney's handsome mug on the cover under the headline: "The Canadian Hired to Save The World".

His job will be to head up the unit the G7 created in the wake of the Asian financial meltdown of the late 1990s to keep banking outfits around the planet in line. While not equipped with any specific powers to compel banks to comply with corrective measures, it can use the not-inconsiderable power of "naming and shaming," as one observer put it.

Obviously, the state of the European economy is on top of the pile in Carney's in-box at the Financial Stability Board.

In a speech in Montreal this week, he warned that the teetering situation of the eurozone is "barely contained" but, "It's absolutely possible to find a solution to this problem. They have the means. They have the solutions. But they have to put them into practice. And better to do that this week, not next year."

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