Profile: Egypt-born Nemat Shafik, the Bank of England’s new star

Shafik, the bank’s new Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking, says her Middle East background had a profound impact

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Egypt-born economist Nemat Shafik has been appointed as the Bank of England’s Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking, the bank said this week.

Shafik, known by her nickname ‘Minouche’, will be one of two deputy governors and will also join the bank’s interest-rate-setting Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) as the only woman in the nine-member group.

“As Deputy Governor for Markets and Banking, reporting directly to the Governor, Dr Shafik will provide greater focus at the very top of the Bank on these two core policy areas,” the bank said.

The new deputy role was created amid allegations that bank officials condoned fixing in currency markets, AP reported.

Shafik’s role will include risk-management practices and overseeing the execution of an eventual exit from quantitative easing by the MPC. She will also join the bank’s Financial Policy Committee and Court of Directors.

Shafik’s appointment will “turn her from a relative unknown into arguably the most powerful woman in the City of London,” The Guardian said.

Shafik was born in Alexandria, Egypt in 1962, and is also a national of Britain and the United States.

She has said that her early years in Egypt had a big effect on her. “When you live in a poor country, you're surrounded by poverty and so that natural interest in why some people have and other people don't is always there,” she said in 2001, according to The Guardian.

“I left as a child and was raised in the U.S. and didn't go back to Egypt until I was a teenager. But that experience of nationalisation and struggling with the role of the state trying to take resources, to redistribute them, but at the same time not being very successful at it was a part of my childhood.”

Shafik, 51, has been Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund since April 2011, where she oversees work on countries in Europe and the Middle East. She is also responsible for the IMF’s $1 billion administrative budget, human resources for its 3,000 staff and training and technical assistance for policy makers.

The IMF chief Christine Lagarde said in a statement quoted by AFP: “The fact that she is leaving us to take up such an important post is testimony to her broad command of policy issues, her superb leadership and communications skills, and her global reputation.”

Shafik’s appointment, effective 1 Aug. 2014, was one of two announced yesterday by the bank. Anthony Habgood was appointed the Chairman of Court, and Ben Broadbent was appointed Deputy Governor for Monetary Policy.