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The Big Mystique

William Davies: Central Banks and Banking, 2 February 2017

The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath 
by Ben Bernanke.
Norton, 624 pp., £27.99, October 2015, 978 0 393 24721 3
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The End of Alchemy: Money, Banking, and the Future of the Global Economy 
by Mervyn King.
Little Brown, 448 pp., £25, March 2017, 978 0 349 14067 4
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... of the state for borrowing and printing too much of it, which causes inflation. All this is what Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England between 2003 and 2013, refers to as the ‘traditional’ theory of money. But ‘Money Creation in the Modern Economy’ explained that money can be created out of thin air, which is exactly what happens every ...

On Radio 4

Peter Campbell: ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’, 18 November 2010

... tend to disrupt the essay-like architecture of the chapters. Not that I would have wanted to miss Mervyn King putting the frighteners on us when considering a medieval Chinese banknote. Oxus chariot model, c.500-300 BC The format of each chapter is the same. You are told what the object is, what it looks like, very often how it was found and ...

What was it that drove him?

David Runciman: Gordon Brown, 4 January 2018

My Life, Our Times 
by Gordon Brown.
Bodley Head, 512 pp., £25, November 2017, 978 1 84792 497 1
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... felt had a habit of playing politics when he shouldn’t was the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King. Throughout the financial crisis, Brown believed that King went beyond his remit in permitting his political views – particularly what Brown calls ‘his personal attitude to debt’ – to interfere with his ...


David Runciman: How the coalition was formed, 16 December 2010

22 Days in May: The Birth of the Lib Dem-Conservative Coalition 
by David Laws.
Biteback, 335 pp., £9.99, November 2010, 978 1 84954 080 3
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... brought the country closer to a Greek-style collapse. During the negotiations, we are told that Mervyn King stood ready in the wings waiting to brief the Lib Dems on the nation’s finances. Laws says that this offer was refused, on the grounds that they ‘didn’t want to feel bounced on economic policy by what anyone else might say’. But the ...

Are we having fun yet?

John Lanchester: The Biggest Scandal of All, 4 July 2013

... what the credit crunch was: banks being too scared to lend to each other. In the very dry words of Mervyn King, the then governor of the Bank of England, Libor became ‘in many ways the rate at which banks do not lend to each other’. Euribor, the Eurozone version of Libor, is at the moment even worse, since in very many cases these banks would be more ...

Let’s consider Kate

John Lanchester: Can we tame the banks?, 18 July 2013

... priority, since it is the thing which, if it goes wrong, could break our polity. In the words of Mervyn King’s last speech as governor of the Bank of England, at Mansion House on 19 June: the sheer size and complexity of global banks have led to failures of governance.Governments, regulators, prosecutors and non-executive directors have all struggled ...

Down with deflation!

Paul Seabright, 12 December 1996

... inflation into accepting real wage cuts while refusing to take money wage cuts. More moderately, Mervyn King of the Bank of England devoted part of this year’s ESRC lecture, and an article in the Guardian, to warning against Akerlof, because although there was no evidence on the question either way, ‘monetary stability would surely do more good than ...

A Company of Merchants

Jamie Martin: The Bank of England, 24 January 2019

Till Time’s Last Sand: A History of the Bank of England, 1694-2013 
by David Kynaston.
Bloomsbury, 879 pp., £35, September 2017, 978 1 4088 6856 0
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... lost its role in banking supervision and managing government debt, but under the governorship of Mervyn King, who took over in 2003 (and who commissioned Kynaston to write this book), became a powerful machine with one overriding purpose: to hit the inflation target. There would be criticism, later, that the bank’s narrow focus prevented it from ...

A Car of One’s Own

Andrew O’Hagan: Chariots of Desire, 11 June 2009

... when he also said that the Bank of England was ‘in pole position’ to help the car industry. Mervyn King believes it is a matter for government, not the Bank, to come to the aid of ailing industries, and the Bank immediately began briefing against the notion that it should do more: it is not ‘commercially viable’, they said, objecting to ...

Keep the baby safe

Stephen Sedley: Corrupt and Deprave, 10 March 2022

A Matter of Obscenity: The Politics of Censorship in Modern England 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Princeton, 320 pp., £28, September 2021, 978 0 691 19798 2
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... Everyone​  knows that Mervyn Griffith-Jones QC asked an Old Bailey jury in 1960 whether Lady Chatterley’s Lover was a book they would want their wives or servants to read. The jury – which included three women – is said to have laughed. Its acquittal of Penguin on a charge of violating the newly minted Obscene Publications Act 1959 is widely regarded as a turning point in the centuries-long persecution of literature and philosophy in the name of morality ...

Toto the Villain

Robert Tashman, 9 July 1992

The Wizard of Oz 
by Salman Rushdie.
BFI, 69 pp., £5.95, May 1992, 0 85170 300 3
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... which had a complex production history, is authorless (Rushdie’s view); or else other directors, King Vidor especially, made important contributions and the film has several authors. Fleming, who went on to make A Guy Named Joe and Adventure, and Gone with the Wind, did not have a strong visual style. He was a producer’s director, assuming a role in the ...


David Runciman: Thatcher’s Rise, 6 June 2013

Margaret Thatcher: The Authorised Biography. Vol. I: Not for Turning 
by Charles Moore.
Allen Lane, 859 pp., £30, April 2013, 978 0 7139 9282 3
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... economists sent a letter to the Times condemning her economic policies (the signatories included Mervyn King, the future governor of the Bank of England). They wrote: ‘There is no basis in economic theory or supporting evidence for the government’s belief that by deflating demand they will bring inflation permanently under control and thereby ...


Christopher Hitchens: Keywords, 13 September 1990

... of American resolve is in prospect, the figure of Hitler is as difficult to exclude as the head of King Charles. The drawback in the analogy is that, from a Hitler, it is impossible to demand much less than his complete destruction or unconditional surrender. Still, other keywords such as ‘expansion’ and ‘poison gas’ do keep on creeping in. Partly as a ...

What news?

Patrick Collinson: The Pilgrimage of Grace, 1 November 2001

The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Politics of the 1530s 
by R.W. Hoyle.
Oxford, 487 pp., £30, May 2001, 9780198208747
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... royal marriage, the Princess Mary and her conservative supporters neatly sidestepped. Since the King could not be directly blamed for these upsets, those who disliked them (most people?) pointed the finger at his upstart ministers, and above all at Thomas Cromwell, whose personal role in ‘all this’ is still debated. The way in which the commotions began ...

I met murder on the way

Colin Kidd: Castlereagh, 24 May 2012

Castlereagh: Enlightenment, War and Tyranny 
by John Bew.
Quercus, 722 pp., £25, September 2011, 978 0 85738 186 6
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... the world was in existence long before the accepted date of its creation, 4004 BC. His colleague Mervyn Storey complained that the signs at the most popular tourist attraction in his North Antrim constituency, the Giant’s Causeway, misinformed the public by telling them that the rock formation was 550 million years old. Despite such stories it would be a ...

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