The Bank of England, 1891-1944 - Vol. 2

By R. S. Sayers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 19
THE CARAVAN MOVES ON: 1933-38

A. 1933-36: A TIME TO REFLATE?

When in October 1933 the Governor gave his customary Mansion House speech, he was in his gloomiest mood. The failure of the World Economic Conference and the lapse of the United States into domestic experiment and international isolation left him with a sense of defeat, even stronger perhaps than in 1931. Norman had always been, and he remained, an internationalist. In 1931 he regarded his own country as having helped, by laggardness in putting its own house in order financially and industrially, to bring on itself a crisis that perversely narrowed the constraints on domestic policy and deferred the prospect of international reconstruction. Now, late in 1933, there had been changes at home -- sufficient to restore confidence in sterling -- but internationally there had been wrong turnings in the most important countries. In America, where Norman had found in Benjamin Strong his most understanding ally, the political climate was against any international advance, and chaos seemed more likely than order. In Germany Schacht, another of his friends, was caught up in the experiment of autarchy. France and other countries forming a gold bloc were engaged in a hopeless struggle to maintain gold parities that had become unrealistic. In his own share of domestic policy the Governor felt he was doing all he could; faithfully keeping to what he thought his proper duty to government, he abstained from saying in public that he thought the government itself could do more. No wonder he felt gloomy and disgruntled; no wonder he was sensitive to criticism which on principle he would not answer. In his gloom and disgruntlement, he concluded his speech with the most unfortunate of all his public utterances: 'The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on.'1.

____________________
1
Speech on 3 October 1933 ( Times, 4 Oct. 1933). Judging by the number of times this saying has been quoted to me, by both critics and defenders of Norman, the immediate public revulsion is not forgotten by the older generation. As it does not appear in.

-460-

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