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The Bank of England, formally the Governor and Company of the Bank of England, is the central bank of the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. Established in 1694, it is the second oldest central bank in operation today, after the Sveriges Riksbank. The Bank of England
England
is the world's 8th oldest bank. It was established to act as the English Government's banker and is still one of the bankers for the Government of the United Kingdom. The Bank was privately owned by stockholders from its foundation in 1694 until it was nationalised in 1946.[2][3] In 1998, it became an independent public organization, wholly owned by the Treasury Solicitor[4] on behalf of the government, with independence in setting monetary policy.[5][6][7][8] The Bank is one of eight banks authorised to issue banknotes in the United Kingdom, but it has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England and Wales
England and Wales
and regulates the issue of banknotes by commercial banks in Scotland
Scotland
and Northern Ireland.[9] The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee
Monetary Policy Committee
has a devolved responsibility for managing monetary policy. The Treasury has reserve powers to give orders to the committee "if they are required in the public interest and by extreme economic circumstances", but such orders must be endorsed by Parliament within 28 days.[10] The Bank's Financial Policy Committee held its first meeting in June 2011 as a macro prudential regulator to oversee regulation of the UK's financial sector. The Bank's headquarters have been in London's main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734. It is sometimes known by the metonym The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street
Threadneedle Street
or The Old Lady, a name taken from the satirical cartoon by James Gillray in 1797.[11] The busy road junction outside is known as Bank junction. As a regulator and central bank, the Bank of England
England
has not offered consumer banking services for many years, but it still does manage some public-facing services such as exchanging superseded bank notes.[12] Until 2016, the bank provided personal banking services as a popular privilege for employees.[13]

Contents

1 History

1.1 Founding 1.2 18th century 1.3 19th century 1.4 20th century 1.5 21st century

2 Functions

2.1 Monetary stability 2.2 Asset purchase facility

3 Banknote
Banknote
issues 4 Gold vault 5 Governance of the Bank of England

5.1 Governors 5.2 Court of Directors 5.3 Other staff

6 Criticism

6.1 Bullionist Perspective 6.2 Brexit

7 See also 8 References 9 Further reading 10 External links

History[edit] Founding[edit]

The sealing of the Bank of England
England
Charter
Charter
(1694)

England's crushing defeat by France, the dominant naval power, in naval engagements culminating in the 1690 Battle of Beachy Head, became the catalyst for England's rebuilding itself as a global power. England
England
had no choice but to build a powerful navy. No public funds were available, and the credit of William III's government was so low in London
London
that it was impossible for it to borrow the £1,200,000 (at 8% p.a.) that the government wanted. To induce subscription to the loan, the subscribers were to be incorporated by the name of the Governor and Company of the Bank of England. The Bank was given exclusive possession of the government's balances, and was the only limited-liability corporation allowed to issue bank notes.[14] The lenders would give the government cash (bullion) and issue notes against the government bonds, which can be lent again. The £1.2m was raised in 12 days; half of this was used to rebuild the navy. As a side effect, the huge industrial effort needed, including establishing ironworks to make more nails and advances[clarification needed] in agriculture feeding the quadrupled strength of the navy, started to transform the economy. This helped the new Kingdom of Great Britain – England
England
and Scotland
Scotland
were formally united in 1707 – to become powerful. The power of the navy made Britain the dominant world power in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.[15] The establishment of the bank was devised[clarification needed] by Charles Montagu, 1st Earl of Halifax, in 1694. The plan of 1691, which had been proposed by William Paterson three years before, had not then been acted upon.[16] (It is worth noting though, that 58 years earlier, in 1636, Financier to the king Philip Burlamachi had proposed exactly the same idea in a letter addressed to Sir Francis Windebank.)[17] He proposed a loan of £1.2m to the government; in return the subscribers would be incorporated as The Governor and Company of the Bank of England
England
with long-term banking privileges including the issue of notes. The royal charter was granted on 27 July through the passage of the Tonnage Act 1694.[18] Public finances were in such dire condition at the time[19] that the terms of the loan were that it was to be serviced at a rate of 8% per annum, and there was also a service charge of £4,000 per annum for the management of the loan. The first governor was Sir John Houblon, who is depicted in the £50 note issued in 1994. The charter was renewed in 1742, 1764, and 1781. 18th century[edit]

Satirical cartoon protesting against the introduction of paper money, by James Gillray, 1797. The "Old Lady of Threadneedle St" (the Bank personified) is ravished by William Pitt the Younger.

The Bank's original home was in Walbrook, a street in the City of London, where during reconstruction in 1954 archaeologists found the remains of a Roman temple of Mithras (Mithras is – rather fittingly – said to have been worshipped as, amongst other things, the God of Contracts);[20] the Mithraeum ruins are perhaps the most famous of all 20th-century Roman discoveries in the City of London
London
and can be viewed by the public. The Bank moved to its current location in Threadneedle Street
Threadneedle Street
in 1734,[21] and thereafter slowly acquired neighbouring land to create the edifice seen today. Sir Herbert Baker's rebuilding of the Bank, demolishing most of Sir John Soane's earlier building, was described by architectural historian Nikolaus Pevsner
Nikolaus Pevsner
as "the greatest architectural crime, in the City of London, of the twentieth century". When the idea and reality of the National Debt came about during the 18th century, this was also managed by the Bank. During the American war of independence, business for the Bank was so good that George Washington remained a shareholder throughout the period.[22] By the charter renewal in 1781 it was also the bankers' bank – keeping enough gold to pay its notes on demand until 26 February 1797 when war had so diminished gold reserves that - following an invasion scare caused by the Battle of Fishguard
Battle of Fishguard
days earlier - the government prohibited the Bank from paying out in gold by the passing of the Bank Restriction Act 1797. This prohibition lasted until 1821. 19th century[edit]

Bank Stock of the Bank of England, issued 25. January 1876

The 1844 Bank Charter
Charter
Act tied the issue of notes to the gold reserves and gave the Bank sole rights with regard to the issue of banknotes. Private banks that had previously had that right retained it, provided that their headquarters were outside London
London
and that they deposited security against the notes that they issued. A few English banks continued to issue their own notes until the last of them was taken over in the 1930s. Scottish and Northern Irish private banks still have that right. The bank acted as lender of last resort for the first time in the panic of 1866.[23] The last private bank in England
England
to issue its own notes was Thomas Fox's Fox, Fowler and Company
Fox, Fowler and Company
bank in Wellington, which rapidly expanded, until it merged with Lloyds Bank in 1927. They were legal tender until 1964. There are nine notes left in circulation; one is housed at Tone Dale House
Tone Dale House
Wellington. 20th century[edit]

The main Bank of England
England
façade, c. 1980

Britain remained on the gold standard until 1931 when the gold and foreign exchange reserves were transferred to the Treasury, but they continued to be managed by the Bank. During the governorship of Montagu Norman, from 1920–44, the Bank made deliberate efforts to move away from commercial banking and become a central bank. In 1946, shortly after the end of Norman's tenure, the bank was nationalised by the Labour government. After 1945 the Bank pursued the multiple goals of Keynesian economics, especially "easy money" and low interest rates to support aggregate demand. It tried to keep a fixed exchange rate, and attempted to deal with inflation and sterling weakness by credit and exchange controls.[24] In 1977, the Bank set up a wholly owned subsidiary called Bank of England
England
Nominees Limited (BOEN), a private limited company, with two of its hundred £1 shares issued. According to its Memorandum & Articles of Association, its objectives are: "To act as Nominee or agent or attorney either solely or jointly with others, for any person or persons, partnership, company, corporation, government, state, organisation, sovereign, province, authority, or public body, or any group or association of them...." Bank of England
England
Nominees Limited was granted an exemption by Edmund Dell, Secretary of State for Trade, from the disclosure requirements under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976, because "it was considered undesirable that the disclosure requirements should apply to certain categories of shareholders." The Bank of England
England
is also protected by its royal charter status, and the Official Secrets Act.[25] BOEN is a vehicle for governments and heads of state to invest in UK companies (subject to approval from the Secretary of State), providing they undertake "not to influence the affairs of the company".[26][27] BOEN is no longer exempt from company law disclosure requirements.[28] Although a dormant company,[29] dormancy does not preclude a company actively operating as a nominee shareholder.[30] BOEN has two shareholders: the Bank of England, and the Secretary of the Bank of England.[31]. BOEN was dissolved, following liquidation, in July 2017. [32] In 1981 the reserve requirement for banks to hold a minimum fixed proportion of their deposits as reserves at the Bank of England
England
was abolished: see reserve requirement for more details. The contemporary transition from Keynesian economics to Chicago economics was analysed by Kaldor in The Scourge of Monetarism[33] On 6 May 1997, following the 1997 general election which brought a Labour government to power for the first time since 1979, it was announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, that the Bank would be granted operational independence over monetary policy.[34] Under the terms of the Bank of England Act 1998 (which came into force on 1 June 1998), the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee was given sole responsibility for setting interest rates to meet the Government's Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation target of 2.5%.[35] The target has changed to 2% since the Consumer Price Index (CPI) replaced the Retail Prices Index as the Treasury's inflation index.[36] If inflation overshoots or undershoots the target by more than 1%, the Governor has to write a letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer explaining why, and how he will remedy the situation.[37] The success of inflation targeting in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
has been attributed to the Bank's focus on transparency.[38] The Bank of England
England
has been a leader in producing innovative ways of communicating information to the public, especially through its Inflation Report, which have been emulated by many other central banks.[39] Independent central banks that adopt an inflation target are known as Friedmanite central banks. Inflation targets combined with central bank independence have been characterised as a "starve the beast" strategy creating a lack of money in the public sector. This change in Labour's politics was described by Skidelsky in The Return of the Master[40] as a mistake and as an adoption of the Rational Expectations Hypothesis as promulgated by Walters[41] The handing over of monetary policy to the Bank had been a key plank of the Liberal Democrats' economic policy since the 1992 general election.[42] Conservative MP Nicholas Budgen had also proposed this as a private member's bill in 1996, but the bill failed as it had the support of neither the government nor the opposition. 21st century[edit] Mark Carney
Mark Carney
assumed the post of Governor of the Bank of England
Governor of the Bank of England
on 1 July 2013. He succeeded Mervyn King, who took over on 30 June 2003. Carney, a Canadian, will serve an initial five-year term rather than the typical eight, and will seek UK citizenship.[43] He is the first non-British citizen to hold the post. As of January 2014, the Bank also has four Deputy Governors. Functions[edit] There are two main areas which are tackled by the Bank to ensure it carries out these functions efficiently:[44]

Bank House, the Bank of England
England
offices on King Street in Leeds.

Monetary stability[edit]

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Note: It is important to note that "monetary" and "financial" are synonyms. Stable prices and confidence in the currency are the two main criteria for monetary stability. Stable prices are maintained by seeking to ensure that price increases meet the Government's inflation target. The Bank aims to meet this target by adjusting the base interest rate, which is decided by the Monetary Policy Committee, and through its communications strategy, such as publishing yield curves.[45]

Maintaining financial stability involves protecting against threats to the whole financial system. Threats are detected by the Bank's surveillance and market intelligence functions. The threats are then dealt with through financial and other operations, both at home and abroad. In exceptional circumstances, the Bank may act as the lender of last resort by extending credit when no other institution will.

The Bank works together with other institutions to secure both monetary and financial stability, including:

HM Treasury, the Government department responsible for financial and economic policy; and Other central banks and international organisations, with the aim of improving the international financial system.

The 1997 memorandum of understanding describes the terms under which the Bank, the Treasury and the FSA work toward the common aim of increased financial stability.[46] In 2010 the incoming Chancellor announced his intention to merge the FSA back into the Bank. As of 2012, the current director for financial stability is Andy Haldane.[47] The Bank acts as the government's banker, and it maintains the government's Consolidated Fund account. It also manages the country's foreign exchange and gold reserves. The Bank also acts as the bankers' bank, especially in its capacity as a lender of last resort. The Bank has a monopoly on the issue of banknotes in England
England
and Wales. Scottish and Northern Irish banks retain the right to issue their own banknotes, but they must be backed one for one with deposits at the Bank, excepting a few million pounds representing the value of notes they had in circulation in 1845. The Bank decided to sell its banknote printing operations to De La Rue
De La Rue
in December 2002, under the advice of Close Brothers Corporate Finance Ltd.[48] Since 1998, the Monetary Policy Committee
Monetary Policy Committee
(MPC) has had the responsibility for setting the official interest rate. However, with the decision to grant the Bank operational independence, responsibility for government debt management was transferred in 1998 to the new Debt Management Office, which also took over government cash management in 2000. Computershare
Computershare
took over as the registrar for UK Government bonds (gilt-edged securities or gilts) from the Bank at the end of 2004. The Bank used to be responsible for the regulation and supervision of the banking and insurance industries. This responsibility was transferred to the Financial Services Authority in June 1998, but after the financial crises in 2008 new banking legislation transferred the responsibility for regulation and supervision of the banking and insurance industries back to the Bank. In 2011 the interim Financial Policy Committee (FPC) was created as a mirror committee to the MPC to spearhead the Bank's new mandate on financial stability. The FPC is responsible for macro prudential regulation of all UK banks and insurance companies. To help maintain economic stability, the Bank attempts to broaden understanding of its role, both through regular speeches and publications by senior Bank figures, a semiannual Financial Stability Report,[49] and through a wider education strategy aimed at the general public. It maintains a free museum and runs the Target Two Point Zero competition for A-level students.[50] Asset purchase facility [edit] The Bank has operated, since January 2009, an Asset Purchase Facility (APF) to buy "high-quality assets financed by the issue of Treasury bills and the DMO's cash management operations" and thereby improve liquidity in the credit markets.[51] It has, since March 2009, also provided the mechanism by which the Bank's policy of quantitative easing (QE) is achieved, under the auspices of the MPC. Along with the managing the £200 billion of QE funds, the APF continues to operate its corporate facilities. Both are undertaken by a subsidiary company of the Bank of England, the Bank of England
England
Asset Purchase Facility Fund Limited (BEAPFF).[51] Banknote
Banknote
issues[edit] Main article: Bank of England
England
note issues The Bank has issued banknotes since 1694. Notes were originally hand-written; although they were partially printed from 1725 onwards, cashiers still had to sign each note and make them payable to someone. Notes were fully printed from 1855. Until 1928 all notes were "White Notes", printed in black and with a blank reverse. In the 18th and 19th centuries White Notes were issued in £1 and £2 denominations. During the 20th century White Notes were issued in denominations between £5 and £1000. Until the mid-19th century, commercial banks were allowed to issue their own banknotes, and notes issued by provincial banking companies were commonly in circulation.[52] The Bank Charter
Charter
Act 1844 began the process of restricting note issue to the Bank; new banks were prohibited from issuing their own banknotes and existing note-issuing banks were not permitted to expand their issue. As provincial banking companies merged to form larger banks, they lost their right to issue notes, and the English private banknote eventually disappeared, leaving the Bank with a monopoly of note issue in England
England
and Wales. The last private bank to issue its own banknotes in England
England
and Wales was Fox, Fowler and Company
Fox, Fowler and Company
in 1921.[53][54] However, the limitations of the 1844 Act only affected banks in England
England
and Wales, and today three commercial banks in Scotland
Scotland
and four in Northern Ireland continue to issue their own banknotes, regulated by the Bank.[9] At the start of the First World War, the Currency and Bank Notes Act 1914 was passed, which granted temporary powers to HM Treasury
HM Treasury
for issuing banknotes to the values of £1 and 10/- (ten shillings). Treasury notes had full legal tender status and were not convertible into gold through the Bank; they replaced the gold coin in circulation to prevent a run on sterling and to enable raw material purchases for armament production. These notes featured an image of King George V (Bank of England
England
notes did not begin to display an image of the monarch until 1960). The wording on each note was:

UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND – Currency notes are Legal Tender for the payment of any amount – Issued by the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury under the Authority of Act of Parliament (4 & 5 Geo. V c.14).

Treasury notes were issued until 1928, when the Currency and Bank Notes Act 1928 returned note-issuing powers to the banks.[55] The Bank of England
England
issued notes for ten shillings and one pound for the first time on 22 November 1928. During the Second World War the German Operation Bernhard
Operation Bernhard
attempted to counterfeit denominations between £5 and £50, producing 500,000 notes each month in 1943. The original plan was to parachute the money into the UK in an attempt to destabilise the British economy, but it was found more useful to use the notes to pay German agents operating throughout Europe. Although most fell into Allied hands at the end of the war, forgeries frequently appeared for years afterwards, which led banknote denominations above £5 to be removed from circulation. In 2006, over £53 million in banknotes belonging to the Bank was stolen from a depot in Tonbridge, Kent.[56] Modern banknotes are printed by contract with De La Rue
De La Rue
Currency in Loughton, Essex.[57] Gold vault[edit] The Bank is custodian to the official gold reserves of the United Kingdom and around 30 other countries. The vault, beneath the City of London, covers a floor space greater than that of the third-tallest building in the City, Tower 42, and needs keys that are three feet (91 cm) long to open.[58] As of April 2016, the Bank held around 400,000 bars, which is equivalent to 5,134 tonnes of gold.[59] These gold deposits were estimated in July 2017 to have a current market value of £142,000,000,000.[60] These estimates suggest the vault could hold as much as 3% of the gold mined throughout human history.[61] Governance of the Bank of England[edit] Governors[edit] Main article: Governor of the Bank of England Following is a list of the Governors of the Bank of England
England
since the beginning of the 20th century:[62]

Name Period

Samuel Gladstone 1899–1901

Augustus Prevost 1901–03

Samuel Morley 1903–05

Alexander Wallace 1905–07

William Campbell 1907–09

Reginald Johnston 1909–11

Alfred Cole 1911–13

Walter Cunliffe 1913–18

Brien Cokayne 1918–20

Montagu Norman 1920–44

Thomas Catto 1944–49

Cameron Cobbold 1949–61

Rowland Baring (3rd Earl of Cromer) 1961–66

Leslie O'Brien 1966–73

Gordon Richardson 1973–83

Robert Leigh-Pemberton 1983–93

Edward George 1993–2003

Mervyn King 2003–13

Mark Carney 2013–

Court of Directors[edit] The Court of Directors is a unitary board which is responsible for setting the organisation's strategy and budget and taking key decisions on resourcing and appointments. It consists of five executive members from the Bank plus up to 9 non-executive members, all of which are appointed by the Crown. One of the non-executive members is selected to act as Chairman by the Chancellor. It is required to meet at least 7 times a year. [63] The Governor serves for a period of eight years, the Deputy Governors for five years, and the non-executive members for up to four years.

Court of Directors (2015)[64]

Name Function

Anthony Habgood Chairman of Court. Chairman of RELX Group
RELX Group
and Preqin

Mark Carney Governor

Ben Broadbent Deputy Governor, Monetary Policy

Sir Jon Cunliffe Deputy Governor, Financial Stability

Sam Woods Deputy Governor, Prudential Regulation & Chief Executive of the Prudential Regulation Authority

Sir David Ramsden Deputy Governor, Markets and Banking

Bradley Fried Managing Partner of Grovepoint Capital LLP

Tim Frost Chairman, Cairn Capital Group Limited

Diana 'Dido' Harding Member of the House of Lords

Dave Prentis General Secretary of UNISON

Don Robert Chairman, Experian plc

Dorothy Thompson Chief Executive, Drax Group plc

Other staff[edit] Since 2013, the Bank has had a chief operating officer (COO).[65] As of 2015[update], the Bank's COO has been Charlotte Hogg.[66] As of 2014[update], the Bank's chief economist is Andrew Haldane.[67] Criticism[edit] Bullionist Perspective[edit]

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Representing the Bullionist perspective, Economist David Ricardo argued that the Bank of England
England
caused inflation and depreciation of the pound by over-issuing banknotes to purchase government securities because of the 1797 suspension of convertibility of pound into specie. The convertibility was suspended to prevent widespread conversion of banknotes into specie as the likelihood of war between England
England
and France grew and fears of a French invasion increased. Before 1797, banknotes issued by the Bank of England
England
were required to be convertible into specie. In the end, Ricardo won with his recommendation to return to convertibility to prevent further conflicts and to ensure price stability. The suspension remained in effect until 1821. After convertibility was reinstated in 1821, the discussion shifted to the Currency-Banking Controversy. Brexit[edit] Mark Carney
Mark Carney
and the Bank were criticised by Jacob Rees-Mogg
Jacob Rees-Mogg
in the run-up to and after the referendum, for their 'unreserved support' for remain during the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
European Union
European Union
membership referendum [68] See also[edit]

Business and economics portal Numismatics portal United Kingdom
United Kingdom
portal

List of British currencies Bank of England
England
Act Bank of England
England
club Coins of the pound sterling East India Company
East India Company
shareholders Financial Sanctions Unit Fractional-reserve banking Commonwealth banknote-issuing institutions Bank of England
England
Museum Deputy Governor of the Bank of England List of directors of the Bank of England

References[edit]

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England
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Charter
and various Act of Parliament, certain privileges of issuing bank notes. The corporation commenced, with an assured life of twelve years after which the Government had the right to annul its Charter
Charter
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Charlotte Hogg
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Keeps Rates Steady". ABC News. Associated Press. 22 October 2014.  ^ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/oct/25/bank-of-england-chief-mark-carney-is-enemy-of-brexit-says-jacob-rees-mogg

Further reading[edit]

Brady, Robert A. (1950). Crisis in Britain. Plans and Achievements of the Labour Government. University of California Press. , on nationalisation 1945–50, pp 43–76 Capie, Forrest. The Bank of England: 1950s to 1979 (Cambridge University Press, 2010). xxviii + 890 pp. ISBN 978-0-521-19282-8 excerpt and text search Clapham, J. H. Bank of England
England
(2 vol 1944) for 1694–1914 Fforde, John. The Role of the Bank of England, 1941–1958 (1992) excerpt and text search Francis, John. History of the Bank of England: Its Times and Traditions excerpt and text search Hennessy, Elizabeth. A Domestic History of the Bank of England, 1930–1960 (2008) excerpt and text search Roberts, Richard, and David Kynaston. The Bank of England: Money, Power and Influence 1694–1994 (1995) Sayers, R. S. The Bank of England, 1891–1944 (1986) excerpt and text search Schuster, F. The Bank of England
England
and the State Wood, John H. A History of Central Banking in Great Britain
Great Britain
and the United States (Cambridge University Press, 2005)

External links[edit]

Official website Clippings about the Bank of England
England
in the 20th Century Press Archives of the German National Library of Economics
German National Library of Economics
(ZBW).

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