The CEO Poll: Praise for Dodge

Business leaders call the former Bank of Canada governor a "statesman."

Business leaders give the federal mini-budget high marks.

David Dodge stepped down as governor of the Bank of Canada on January 31, and Canadian CEOs had more than a few kind words for him in a web poll conducted by COMPAS Inc. The 123 respondents also had some advice for Mark Carney, Dodge’s successor.

The CEOs were asked to grade Dodge’s performance over the past seven years on a 100-point scale, and the former governor earned a score of 81. That’s the same grade respondents gave to U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan when polled in 2005 about his upcoming retirement. (The only performance score to exceed Dodge’s in a COMPAS poll was given to the Stephen Harper government for the clean report it received from the Auditor General on its 2005-2006 financial statements.)

Many respondents were generous in their praise for Dodge. “He was very astute at curbing knee-jerk reactions to the much more highly volatile U.S. banking and market conditions,” one CEO wrote. “A statesman. Always well-spoken, intelligent, non-political and level-headed,” commented another.

Not everyone was so enthusiastic. “Not that he did a great deal of good, but at least he didn’t make a mess,” one business leader wrote. Specific criticism included not lowering interest rates enough, allowing the Canadian dollar to rise too high as the country’s oil and gas sector boomed, and allowing the manufacturing sector to wither.

The majority of CEOs recommended that new BOC governor Carney lower interest rates further, but not as quickly as the U.S. Federal Reserve has been slashing them. In Canada, the overnight rate is now at 4%, down from 4.5% in December. The Fed, meanwhile, has sliced rates from 4.25% to 3% in recent weeks.

On another topic, opposition to adopting the U.S. dollar remains strong. Nearly half of the respondents said Canada should definitely not consider the move, up from 22% in a previous COMPAS poll from November 2001.

Whatever Carney does in his new role, wrote one CEO, Dodge will be a “hard act to follow.”