A remembrance of Montagu Norman

by Eric on October 17, 2013

From James Warburg’s oral history:

He was known as the ‘old fox’ and was really a sort of 19th Century buccaneer with a Mephistophelean beard and very, very sharp beady eyes. He had a wonderful sense of humor, but you couldn’t trust him as far as you could throw him. I remember one time I went in to see him, I think during this period [i.e., spring of 1933], and I had a brief case which he told me to leave with my coat. I said, ‘No, I think I’ll take it along.’ He said, ‘Oh, you don’t by any means think that I’d have my chap go through it while you’re with me, do you? – because you’re quite right.’ I wasn’t too sure whether he really would have. He was a brilliant central bank manager, but much too conservative for what was happening at the time. He was violently opposed to John Maynard Keynes and all Keynes’ theories and that sort of thing.

Norman kept saying that there was no sense in trying to stabilize unless we agreed on what kind of fiscal policy we were all going to pursue, which was sensible because stabilization wouldn’t stick if the United States went in for inflation, for instance. That’s what he was concerned about.

The US did, of course, go in for dollar devaluation.



Henry 10.18.13 at 3:20 am

Does the biography mention Norman’s little known second career as a CT poster?


Eric 10.18.13 at 4:23 pm

It was because I recalled Norman’s brief stint as a CT blogger that I thought CTers might appreciate a portrait of Old Pink Whiskers.


Bruce Wilder 10.19.13 at 1:55 am

I kind of liked the glimpse of the sans souci of two self-conscious aristocrats of the banking caste. “Brilliant” and “too conservative” with no meaning assigned to either “judgment” concerning a man, who presided undisturbed over both economic calamity and vast changes in the institution he led.

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