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Friday, May 7, 1999 Published at 08:12 GMT 09:12 UK

Business: The Economy

Eddie George bows out - in 2003

Steady Eddie and his team, the Monetary Policy Committee

The governor of the Bank of England, Eddie George, says he will quit the job when his current term of office runs out in 2003.

[ image: Eddie George]
Eddie George
In an interview with the Reuters newsagency, Mr George said he had had "a wonderful career" and that he was was "hugely enjoying it now".

But he added: "It's jolly hard work so when I come to the end of my term I shall be looking forward to retiring."

Mr George, nick-named "Steady Eddie", has been with the Bank of England for 37 years, and will be nearly 65 at the end of this current tenure.

He took over at the helm of the bank in 1993. One of his biggest challenges was to deal with the collapse of Barings bank, which went down after a trader badly miscalculated his market bets and head office failed to spot his rogue behaviour.


The governor made the comments in an interview to mark the second anniversary of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee.

[ image: A man and his (inflation target) master: Eddie Geroge and Gordon Brown]
A man and his (inflation target) master: Eddie Geroge and Gordon Brown
The committee is setting the key interest rates for the United Kingdom and was set up when the new Labour government granted the Bank of England independence in May 1997, shortly after coming to power.

However, the government continues to set the inflation target - currently 2.5% - that the bank has to achieve.

As a result relations between the bank and the Treasury remain close - and, according to Mr George, very constructive.

"We get on extremely well," he said. "Gordon Brown has been absolutely scrupulous. He put in place a tremendous framework for monetary policy and neither he nor the prime minister has sought to interfere."

Last year there had been reports of tensions between the Monetary Policy Committee and government ministers over the level of interest rates.

Fear of inflationary pressures - based on official data that later proved to be erroneous - persuaded the bank to raise interest rates, just at a time when the UK economy was slowing down.

The high rates drove up the pound, in turn crippled the export industry and threatened to push the country into recession.

A series of interest rate cuts,. however, appears to have produced the desired "soft landing" at the end of the economic cycle.

Economic growth is slow, but has not disappeared and there are signs that the economy is picking up again.

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