Former Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jim O’Neill Joins UK Treasury

Jim O’Neill, the former chief economist at Goldman Sachs Group who coined the BRIC acronym joined the Treasury department in the United Kingdom as Commercial Secretary.

As Commercial Secretary, Jim O’Neill will help the U.K. government in its initiatives to devolve more power to cities. His position is unpaid. O’Neill was also appointed to become a member of the House of Lords, the upper chamber of the Parliament.

Former Goldman Sachs Chief Economist Jim O'Neill Joins UK Treasury

Jim O’Neill to take charge of Northern Powerhouse initiative

Jim O’Neill’s appointment came after Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne launched the latest phase of his initiative called “Northern Powerhouse.”

In his speech in Manchester, Chancellor Osborne said Jim O’Neill will serve as a Conservative life peer, and he will be handling a special responsibility of leading devolution to cities outside London.

Chancellor Osborne said, “Right in the heart of government, in the department that historically fought tooth and nail to stop giving up power, we have a brilliant new minister to help make devolution and the Northern Powerhouse happen.”

The Northern Powerhouse is policy aims to accelerate the economic growth of cities in the North of England including Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield through infrastructure investments.

Osborne noted, “The old model of trying to run everything in our country from the center of London is broken.” The Northern Powerhouse allows Manchester to elect a mayor in 2017 with authority over housing, planning, policing, and transport.

“Over a long period, under governments of all political colors, our economy has become unbalanced and our capital city has come to dominate more and more. We can reverse it – and create a balanced, healthy economy for working people across our United Kingdom,” said Osborne.

Jim O’Neill thinks of interventions to raise economic performance

In an article published in the Evening Standard, O’Neill wrote, “The goal of the independent City Growth Commission, which I chaired, was to think of interventions that might raise the economic performance of major urban areas outside London.”

Last year, Jim O’Neill stated that London has been the BRIC capital of the world. BRIC stands for the grouping of Brazil, Russia, India and China as potential growth powerhouses in the future. According to him, London is the greatest beneficiary of the growth in these countries.

“But from a national policy-making perspective, it is quite easy to think that perhaps London is doing just fine and that it is elsewhere that needs policy support,” he said at the time.

Commenting on his appointment, Russel Jones of Llewellyn Consulting told the Guardian, “Jim is eclectic and very sensible. What he will bring to the Treasury—and they need this—is loads of experience of the markets. He’s got that in spades.”