The U.K.'s Rocky Road to Stability
FRB of St. Louis Working Paper No. 2005-020A
116 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2005
Date Written: March 2005
This paper provides an overview, using extensive documentary material, of developments in U.K. macroeconomic policy in the last half-century. Rather than focusing on well-known recent changes in policy arrangements (such as the introduction of inflation targeting in 1992 or central bank independence in 1997), we instead take a longer perspective, which characterizes the favorable economic performance in the 1990s and 2000s as the culmination of an overhaul of macroeconomic policy since the late 1970s. We stress that policymaking in recent decades has discarded various misconceptions about the macroeconomy and the monetary transmission mechanism that officials held in earlier periods. The misconceptions included: an underestimation of the importance of monetary policy in demand management until 1970; a failure to distinguish real and nominal interest rates until the late 1960s; the deployment until the mid-1980s of ineffective monetary control devices that did not alter the monetary base; and the adherence by policymakers in the 1960s and 1970s to nonmonetary views of the inflation process. We also consider developments in fiscal policy in light of changes in the doctrines underlying U.K. macroeconomic decisions.
Keywords: U.K. monetary policy, U.K. fiscal policy, inflation, instruments of monetary policy
JEL Classification: E51, E52, E60, E65
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation