NATO's Stoltenberg seeks to become Norway central bank governor

# 14 December 2021 16:21 (UTC +04:00)

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is among the applicants seeking to become Norway's next central bank governor, the country's finance ministry said on Tuesday, APA reports citing Reuters.

Stoltenberg and his main rival for the job, Norges Bank deputy governor Ida Wolden Bache, both said they had been encouraged by the ministry to apply.

"The finance ministry contacted me in November and asked whether I would consider applying for the position. I've done that now and this is a job I'm very motivated for," Stoltenberg told news agency NTB.

While the job is open from March 1, Stoltenberg would first have to serve out his term at NATO, which runs until the end of September, 2022, he said.

Stoltenberg, an economist by training, was Norwegian prime minister from 2000-01 and 2005-13 before becoming NATO chief the following year. He has also held the job of finance minister.

Wolden Bache, seen by many economists as a leading contender, was the only woman among the 22 applicants.

"I've applied for the position as central bank governor following a dialogue with the finance ministry. As deputy governor I have a good overview of what the position entails, and I'm motivated for the job," she said in a statement.

The successful candidate will be in charge of setting interest rates as well as overseeing Norway's powerful sovereign wealth fund, the world's largest with assets of $1.4 trillion.

Stoltenberg, who holds a master's degree in economics, has not worked at the central bank.

Wolden Bache holds a doctorate in economics and has been first-deputy governor since April, 2020. She was executive director of monetary policy for four years and head of financial stability for one year.

She has also worked as an economist at Handelsbanken Capital Markets in Oslo. If appointed, Wolden Bache would become the first woman to run Norges Bank since its inception more than 200 years ago.

Oeystein Olsen, the current governor who will turn 70 in January, announced this year that he will retire at the end of February, 10 months before his second six-year term had been due to expire.

Most Norwegian public officials retire by the age of 70.

Among the other candidates there were several students and retirees as well as a bus driver and a baker, as is often the case when high-profile government jobs are announced in Norway.

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