chapter  1
14 Pages

The commissioned historians of the Bank of England: Charles Goodhart

After Fforde retired as Executive Director for Home Affairs in 1982, he remained in the Bank then as an Adviser for two years, focusing on preparations for writing the next stage of the history. He presumably wanted to do this; and as a close colleague of the Governors it might have been hard for them to deny him. I do not know whether there was much, or any, consideration of the pros and cons of having an internal senior official write up the Bank’s history, though he himself had played little, or no role in the historical period that he covered; He joined the Bank in 1957 and his History ends in 1958. Anyhow, once he had retired from the Bank in 1984, he was asked by the Governors (Robin LeighPemberton and his Deputy, Kit McMahon) to continue the official history of the Bank for the years 1941-58. There was much less overlap in this case. Fforde did not deal with war finance, and only went back to 1941 in so far as it was necessary to cover the discussions leading up to Bretton Woods, the AngloAmerican Loan, and the establishment of the post-war international monetary regime, especially in Chapter 2. The history ends in 1958, prior to the publication of the Radcliffe Report.7 Forrest Capie, the fourth and latest commissioned historian, was asked by the Governor, Mervyn King, in May 2004, to take the official history on a further 20 years. The main starting point was necessarily the Radcliffe Committee Report (hearings started 1957, published 1959), but Forrest needed to go back to the mid 1950s to review the antecedents of this. The closing date was 1979, partly because of the Bank’s 30-year rule on disclosure, partly because 1979 represented a major watershed between the Keynesian-style macro-policies of previous governments and the attempts of the subsequent Conservative government(s) to introduce new, and initially more ‘monetarist’, regimes.