Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 September 2020
In practice, the early 1980s UK policy involved sporadically – but surprisingly often – responding to exchange rate movements, even when the exchange rate was specifically not designated as either a policy goal or an instrument, as well as raising interest rates as a way to cool down inflation but also economic growth. The 1981 budget, the most controversial of the Thatcher years, was accompanied by the attempt to take the pressure off manufacturing industry by lowering interest rates. The Bank responded to a surge in broad monetary aggregates by overfunding, that is, selling more than the amount of long-term debt (mainly gilts and National Savings instruments) required to finance the government. In 1983, a new Governor, Robin Leigh-Pemberton, who seemed more aligned with Thatcher’s view, came to the Bank of England, replacing Gordon Richardson, whose relationship with the Prime Minister had been strained. In the same year, a new Chancellor the Exchequer, Nigel Lawson, began a slow move away from monetarism and the application of monetary targets. The exchange rate came to play an increasing role in policy.