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Britain's money supply experiment, 1971-73


  • Duncan Needham

    () (Trinity Hall, University of Cambridge)


This article challenges the claim that monetary policy neglect was responsible for the unprecedented UK inflation of the 1970s. It departs from the historiography by showing the Bank of England following money supply objectives from 1971, two years earlier than is currently acknowledged and five years before Denis Healey first published a money supply target. After missing its monetary objectives in 1972-73, the Bank concluded that tight control of the money supply was impracticable in the UK. Conservative policymakers drew the opposite conclusion, that only tighter control of the money supply would cure Britain of its economic ills. This failure to heed the lessons of 1970s monetary policy would have profound consequences for the British economy in the early 1980s and beyond.

Suggested Citation

  • Duncan Needham, 2012. "Britain's money supply experiment, 1971-73," Working Papers 10, Department of Economic and Social History at the University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cmh:wpaper:04

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    Monetary targeting; monetary policy.;

    JEL classification:

    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-


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