Lord George

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Lord George, who died aged 70, in April 2009, "was the first Governor of the Bank of England in modern times to be allowed to manage interest rates independently of political interference...

"George nevertheless commanded worldwide respect as "Steady Eddie" (and sometimes "Hard Eddie"), the banker's banker, a man who knew every nut and bolt of the financial system and was never deflected from his essential role in combating inflation in the British economy. Though he bore some criticism for mishaps which afflicted the Bank in the first half of the 1990s – notably the fiasco of Britain's exit from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1992, and the collapse of Barings in 1995 – there is no doubt that his authoritative reputation was a factor in the incoming Labour government's decision in 1997 to grant independence to the Bank in the setting of interest rates...

"George joined the Bank of England in 1962, having impressed the Bank's personnel officer in a game of bridge. He worked initially on East European affairs and spent nine months in USSR – where he was accused by the Russians of spying, an allegation which he firmly denied. He was seconded to the Bank for International Settlements in Basle from 1966 to 1969 and to the IMF in Washington as secretary to the chairman of the Committee of Twenty (Sir Jeremy Morse, later chairman of Lloyds Bank) from 1972 to 1974. He became Governor Gordon Richardson's adviser on international monetary questions in 1974, deputy chief cashier in 1977 and head of the gilt-edged division in 1980, by which time he was of sufficient seniority to be carpeted by Margaret Thatcher (his seniors having sensibly gone abroad at the crucial moment) when the money supply appeared to have suddenly run out of control.

"He became an executive director of the Bank in 1982 and deputy governor in 1990. He masterminded the Bank's dealings on the money and foreign exchange markets, and developed the reputation of being – in Nigel Lawson's words – "the bank's real monetary expert" behind the scenes...

"And in September 1992, when the pound was forced out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism by a huge wave of speculative pressure, it was George who was responsible for the Bank of England's ineffectual defence of the pound, believed to have cost £1.5 billion.

But still there was little criticism, and almost no competition, when George was appointed Governor in 1993...

"In retirement from the Bank, George made few public statements and none that might embarrass his successor, Mervyn King. He did, however express strong concerns, well before the impact of the credit crunch, about the need for higher ethical standards in the banking profession. And in 2008 he published a pamphlet, Banking on Stability, which called for greater transparency in the way banks report their activities, and more co-ordinated international regulation.

"He acquired directorships of Nestlé and the Grosvenor Estate and an advisory role with NM Rothschild & Sons, and became chairman of the governors of Dulwich College. He was created a life peer in 2004 as Lord George of St Tudy – the Cornish village to which he retired. He became a deputy lieutenant of Cornwall in 2006.

"He married, in 1962, Vanessa Williams, who survives him with their son and two daughters." [1]

In 2003 Sir Edward joined "the boards of both NM Rothschild and Rothschild Continuation Holdings, the companies at the head of the complex Rothschild organisation." [2]

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  1. Lord George, Telegraph, accessed April 21, 2009.
  2. Former Governor joins Rothschild board, telegraph.co.uk, accessed November 28, 2011.