The global financial crisis, persistently weak growth and now Covid-19 have created tensions between politics and central banking. The time is ripe for a refreshed constitution, making clear the purpose of independent central banks, and what should fall to fiscal authorities.
When in 1997 the Bank of England regained independence, the long arc of its 20th century history reached closure: from great power before the 1930s, to decades sidelined as the Treasury’s operational branch, through reacquired authority during the late 1970s and 1980s, and finally back to insulation from quotidian politics. The destination was not inevitable, and the job of this book, covering the quarter century from 1979 to 2003, is to tell the tale of how a remarkable group built an organization fit to be granted independence when the politicians and mandarins ran out of monetary wheezes. It has the right title (almost) and an appropriate cover, as Eddie George—perhaps the finest central banker in the generation after Paul Volcker—embodied the transition from old to new.