Statistician to join Reserve Bank

JASON KRUPP
Last updated 08:48 13/02/2013
Geoff Bascand
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
NUMBERS MAN: Geoff Bascand will leave the top position at Statistics New Zealand for a senior Reserve Bank role.

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Geoff Bascand's decision to take up a deputy governor position at the Reserve Bank has been welcomed by the market, with most calling it a good move for one of the country's most "capable economists".

Bascand, who heads up Statistics New Zealand, will take on the new job at the end of May, replacing assistant governor and head of operations Don Abel, who is retiring. Bascand will join Grant Spencer, the bank's deputy chief executive and head of financial stability, as one of two deputy governors under bank head Graeme Wheeler.

Bascand will be responsible for currency and property services, communications, human resources, knowledge services, financial services, and risk assessment and assurance. Bascand will also be involved in the bank's policy committees.

His move comes after six years at the helm of the government statistician, during which time the department's operations were affected by the Christchurch earthquakes and Government budget cutbacks.

Westpac chief economist Dominick Stephens credited Bascand with making the department more flexible to requests from the market.

"Within tight budgetary constraints, the willingness to listen to outside institutions has improved a lot [under Bascand]."

The department's rogue employment numbers and recent revisions to growth numbers, which showed the economy was in recession in 2010, have been dismissed by the market as typical of dataflows in volatile times.

"[There are always] significant changes, not just to the data but the methodology," said Shamubeel Eaqub, principal economist at the Institute of Economic Research. "I'm not overly worried."

Bascand has held senior positions at the Department of Labour and the New Zealand Treasury. He also worked as a senior economist at the International Monetary Fund.

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- The Dominion Post

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