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Robert Blake and Wm. Roger Louis

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206262

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206262.001.0001

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Churchill’s Economic Ideas, 1900–1930

Churchill’s Economic Ideas, 1900–1930

Chapter:
(p.79) 5 Churchill’s Economic Ideas, 1900–1930
Source:
Churchill
Author(s):

Peter Clarke

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206262.003.0006

When the Conservative Party swept to power under Stanley Baldwin, Winston Churchill became Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer. It was under Churchill that ‘the authorities’ — the Treasury and the Bank of England — made their last stand in defence of a conception of sound finance that had been canonical since William Gladstone's day. There were two episodes where Churchill could, with some plausibility, be represented as an unwilling dupe of the authorities: the decision to return to the Gold Standard in 1925 and the promulgation of the Treasury view on loan-financed public works in 1929. In both cases, Churchill became the mouthpiece for an unflinching reassertion of the established orthodoxy, in the face of provocative challenges from John Maynard Keynes. The Gold Standard, which had been effectively suspended since 1914, underpinned free trade by regulating the level of prices through the instrument of bank rate. Churchill became a disillusioned agnostic in his economic ideas, dealing with issues of economic policy in a purely pragmatic way.

Keywords:   Winston Churchill, Britain, Treasury, Bank of England, Gold Standard, sound finance, free trade, John Maynard Keynes, economic policy

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