LECTURE II

The main fault of the Radcliffe Report was that it interpreted its own terms of reference very narrowly, and having come to conclusions that were so largely negative, it did not attempt to give any outline, or even a hint, of its views of how the very real problems which monetary policy was called upon to deal with could be tackled. The Committee was undoubtedly well aware of these problems -- not least because of the series of excellent memoranda which it received from distinguished British economists 1 -- and these comprised the persistence of inflation and its world-wide character which was so contrary to previous experience; inadequate growth which they ascribed to insufficient longterm investment; inadequate export performance in relation to competitors; and cyclical instability leading at times to excessive pressure of demand.

Keynesian principles of economic management were universally accepted by all political parties and by academic economists -- there were no monetarists of those days -- and the question for discussion concerned only how the performance of the economy could be improved in terms of growth as well as the avoidance of inflation. The famous Coalition White Paper on Employment Policy of 1944 which accepted the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment as 'one of the Government's primary aims and responsibilities' was followed in 1956 by a further White Paper issued by a Conservative Government on the Economic Implications of Full Employment which stated that: 'The Government is pledged to foster conditions in which the nation can, if it so wills, realise its full potentialities for growth in terms of production and living standards'. 2

The main instrument for attaining these ends was the regulation of the pressure of demand by fiscal policy supplemented by monetary policy, and the main question at issue was how the various objectives

____________________
1
I can strongly recommend to present-day students the study of some of the memoranda reprinted in the third volume of the Committee's Memoranda of Evidence. The volume contains over thirty memoranda submitted by economists, a number of whom (particularly A. J. Brown, J. C. R. Dow, R. F. Harrod, R. F. Kahn , I. M. D. Little, R. R. Neild, and R. Ross) gave an excellent presentation of the issues that has lost none of its relevance -- in sharp contrast with present-day writers on the subject, whose reasoning and terminology have been hopelessly befuddled by the outpourings of monetarist writers from across the Atlantic.
2
Cmd. 9725, para. 25.

-17-

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The Scourge of Monetarism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Figures and Tables vii
  • INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND EDITION ix
  • INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST EDITION xx
  • PART I - The Radcliffe Report and Monetary Policy 1
  • A Personal Note on Lord Radcliffe 2
  • Lecture I 3
  • Lecture II 17
  • PART II - Monetary Policy in the United Kingdom 37
  • Evidence to the Treasury And Civil Service Committee July 1980 39
  • NOTES ON SUBSEQUENT DEVELOPMENTS 112
  • Index 113
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