The Next Chapter·Proust Questionnaire

Mark Carney is inspired by the normal, everyday heroes

The Canadian author and economist takes our version of the Proust Questionnaire.

'It's very easy to lose those heroic qualities, once you're in the arena... in the political sphere'

Mark Carney is a Canadian economist and banker. (Peter Summers/The Associated Press)

Born in Fort Smith, N.W.T., Mark Carney is an economist, banker and the former governor of the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England.

Carney's knowledge and experience of money and markets has led him to believe that it's time to prioritize human values over financial values. His new book, Values: Building a Better World for All, argues that the crises facing the world today come from a focus on price and profitability at the expense of fairness and income equality. 

Carney stopped by The Next Chapter to take its version of the Proust questionnaire. 

Name your favourite writers.

Tom Stoppard, Ian McEwan, James Joyce. Those would be three that come to mind. With Stoppard, it's the precision and richness of his language. For example, in Arcadia, he blends chaos theory, landscape gardening, history, passion and reason — and manages to make it both funny and insightful in terms of plot lines. It's just a fusion of not just different genres, but different disciplines.

McEwan for his sheer breadth: everything from On Chesil Beach to Saturday to Nutshell, which is one of the funniest books that I have read. I find his range remarkable and his voice is different between the different works. 

Then there's Joyce: he is historical for me, in terms of when I was growing up and what I read. 

Former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney shares his ideas on how Canada can come out of the COVID-19 crisis in better shape. His new book is Value(s): Building a Better World For All. 19:02

What is your favourite journey? 

My favourite journey was when I would run, which wasn't every day, but I would run from home to work or work to home. It was about a 45-minute run. My favourite version of the run was when I used to do it in the morning. So it would be six in the morning, it would be dark. I'd come down and it was just a way to transition from home to work and work to home. But, kind of bizarrely, it was a slightly unusual life where virtually everything was scheduled or controlled outside of that. 

It was just a way to both run through the history of the city, but also to be normal.

It was the way to be outside, not recognized — because people wouldn't expect to see you or it was so early there weren't people on the street. It was a way to both run through the history of the city, but also to be normal. 

Recently, that's been my favourite journey. Of course, I haven't been on any journeys because people are in a lockdown. So any journey would be my favourite journey after this.

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 

Early summer morning. Late June, early July. You wake up naturally, it's light. It's still. It's quiet. You have a chance to meditate with a book that you're a quarter of the way into and really enjoy. And that's pretty close to perfect happiness. 

'We can't self isolate from climate change:' Carney

CBC News

4 months ago
In an interview with CBC News' Chief Political Correspondent Rosemary Barton, the United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Finance, Mark Carney said we all have to act on climate change because ultimately, we will all be affected. 1:03

Who are your favourite heroes in real life? 

There's an element of the everyday hero, if I can put it that way: It is that sort of instinctive and consistent giving of themselves in a way that is inspiring and heroic. In my world — policymaking and central banking — Christine Lagarde is a remarkable figure. She's a very public figure and very impressive. She fundamentally has changed some institutions. She's incredibly effective behind the scenes. Her values and her objectives are pure. And I think she's had an enormous impact. 

It is that sort of instinctive and consistent giving of themselves in a way that is inspiring and heroic.

It's very easy to lose those heroic qualities, once you're in the arena, so to speak, in the political sphere. She is, if anything, she's reinforced them. 

What is your greatest achievement?

I would probably default to the professional — the financial reforms after the crisis and writing that system. I view it as an achievement because it's a good thing. It made the system stronger, but it was being able to work with others from around the world — hundreds and hundreds of people with lots of vested interests — and get them to agree on literally hundreds of different measures that they then, more or less, went back and implemented at home. 

Getting to the right answer is part of it — but it was that process of getting there in a way that people owned and actually implemented. 

Mark Carney's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

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