Page last updated at 19:01 GMT, Saturday, 18 April 2009 20:01 UK

Former bank governor George dies

Sir Eddie George in 2000
Lord George was "universally admired", said Gordon Brown

The former Governor of the Bank of England Edward George has died aged 70 after a long battle with cancer, the Bank of England said.

Lord George stood down from his post after his second five-year stint ended in the summer of 2003.

In office he acquired the nickname Steady Eddie, and gained a higher media profile than most of his predecessors.

Mervyn King, who succeeded Lord George in the post, said he was "deeply saddened" as he announced his death.


Mr King added: "He served the bank for more than 40 years and was an outstanding governor, colleague and friend.

"Eddie will be remembered as the governor who led the bank to independence.

He was universally admired for his expertise, judgment and wisdom
Gordon Brown

"Only a few weeks ago, we reminisced about the events that led to that significant change for the bank."

Mr King was referring to the decision in May 1997, shortly after the Labour government came to power, to grant the Bank of England independence.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "Eddie George was the first governor of the independent Bank of England.

"He was universally admired for his expertise, judgment and wisdom, and it was my privilege to have worked with one of the world's greatest and most respected central bankers.

"My thoughts are with Vanessa and their three children."

Former Conservative Chancellor Lord Lamont said Lord George was "much respected and will be sorely missed.

"He was an extremely able and talented central banker, shrewd and always in close touch with the markets, never afraid to make difficult decisions.

"We worked closely together in the ERM crisis when he was deputy governor. After that he became governor and I always valued his advice."

As deputy governor George had to deal with Black Wednesday when the pound was forced out of the European exchange rate mechanism (ERM). He had opposed the Conservative government's decision to join the ERM.

Former Conservative Chancellor Lord Lamont says Lord George was "unflappable in a crisis"

Kenneth Clarke, who became chancellor after Lord Lamont's resignation, said: "This is very sad news and we will all miss him very much.

"I always enjoyed working with him; he was a very wise head with a very calm temperament. His advice was always worth having and he was a reliable colleague in every type of crisis."

Mr Clarke's regular meetings with George during his time as chancellor were often referred to as the 'Ken and Eddie Show'.

'Wonderful career'

Christened Edward Alan John George, he studied at Dulwich College, south London, and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he gained a second in economics.

Eddie George and Gordon Brown at G7 meeting in 2000
Gordon Brown said he was privileged to have worked with Eddie George

Famously, he once told a conference that there were three types of economist - those who could add up and those who could not.

It was a joke apparently lost on one delegate who asked what the third category was.

He joined the Bank of England in 1962, working at first on East European affairs.

Announcing his departure from the bank, Lord George had said he had had "a wonderful career".

He said in 2003: "It's jolly hard work so when I come to the end of my term I shall be looking forward to retiring."


A major challenge during his tenure was to deal with the collapse of Barings bank.

He also attracted criticism in the north-east of England in 1998 when he appeared to suggest that job losses in the region were a price worth paying to curb inflation in the more prosperous south of the country.

Lord George was knighted in 2000 and made a life peer in 2004.

He is survived by his wife Vanessa and their three children.

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Obituary: Lord George
18 Apr 09 |  Business

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