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Duncan Needham

Subject groups/Research projects

Economy and Fiscal:

Faculties and Departments

Faculty of History:

Research Interests

My research shows how events such as the 1967 devaluation, the collapse of Bretton Woods, the stagflation of the 1970s, and the 1976 IMF loan all impacted economic policy in Britain. In contrast to the ‘monetary policy neglect’ thesis that dominates the current historiography, it shows, for the first time, that the unprecedented inflation of the 1970s happened in spite of the UK authorities setting unpublished money supply targets from 1971. After missing these targets, the Bank of England concluded that tight control of the money supply was impracticable in an open economy such as the UK. Conservative policymakers drew the opposite conclusion; that only tighter control of the money supply would cure Britain of its inflationary ills. Conservative strategists now acknowledge that their misconceived monetary policy deepened the 1980-81 recession. With nominal interest rates at 17 percent, the soaring pound made Britain a net importer of manufactured goods for the first time since before the Industrial Revolution, pushing unemployment above three million for the first time since the 1930s. This failure to heed the lessons of 1970s monetary policy has had profound long-term consequences for the British economy. 

After completing my first degree at the London School of Economics in 1994, I was a bond trader at JP Morgan and then a fund manager at Cairn Capital, returning to academia in 2008.

Other Professional Activities

British economic history
Monetary policy
Political economy