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THE BANK OF ENGLAND
The reason for which the Bank of England was founded in 1694 was to look after the Government’s debt, commonly called the National Debt, and this is still a most important function. A large proportion of the debt is made up of Government bonds, that is pieces of paper stating that the holder has subscribed such-and-such a sum of money and is entitled to so much interest per year. Two world wars have helped to swell the issue of bonds to some $40,000 mil. Another sizable slice of debt is in the form of Treasury bills which are rather like bonds with a very short life span before the Government buys them back again and so repays the loan. Their purpose is to provide the government with day-to-day money to cover the inevitable gaps which occur between its disbursements, e.g. on such things as unemployment benefit and of National Savings Securities, of which ordinary Post Office (now National Saving Bank) accounts and Premium Bonds are perhaps the best-known examples.
The Bank of England is the ultimate source from which the general public can obtain cash. Other English banks used to issue their own notes, but now they all use the Bank of England notes. Scottish banks have continued to issue their own, but it is an expensive undertaking, and is closely controlled by the central bank in England.
The bank also looks after the bank account of the Government just like an ordinary bank does for its customers. Into this account go all tax receipts and any other transfers of money from the various banks, and out of it go all payments.
Because all the important institutions in the City maintain accounts at the Bank, transfers of money between them and the Government, which go on every day, are made very easily. The Bank merely debits one account and credits another. The Bank also holds accounts for important international institutions like the World Bank, for just over a hundred central banks and also for some ordinary foreign banks, making a total of nearly two hundred accounts.
The Exchange Equalization Account is the name of the fund in which are held the gold and foreign currency reserves of the country. The managers of the fund have the task of intervening from time to time in the otherwise free market for foreign currency, so as to influence the price of the pound in line with government policy, or simply to try to maintain a reasonably orderly market. The pound is not the only currency whose price has to be carefully controlled. Most of the major world currencies have the same problems, and all greatly benefit from international cooperation. Dealing with other central banks and managing money on an international scale has become an important side of the Bank’s work. Every month the Governor flies to Basle to spend a week-end in conference with his opposite numbers from the central banks of other western industrial countries.
The object of the Bank’s management in the monetary field is to support the Government’s activities in other fields, e.g. taxation policy, export promotion and so on. The methods of control used by the Bank are based on a system in which money available to be borrowed should be rationed by price, not by orders from the Bank of the Treasury.
The instruments of control the Bank has are following:
1. Suggestion and request.
2. Open market operations
3. Special deposits and supplementary deposits.
1. Why and when was the Bank of England founded?
2. What type of securities make up the National Debt?
3. What is the money raised in this way to spent on?
4. Enumerate the most important functions of the Bank of England.
5. What is the object of a central bank’s management in the monetary field?
6. What principles does the Bank of England follow in exercising its control over the monetary policy?
7. What instruments of control has the Bank at its disposal?
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