John Major

John Major

The Autobiography

Book - 1999
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Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c1999.
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780060196141
Branch Call Number: 941.0859092 Major
Characteristics: xxiii, 774 pages : illustrations (some color)


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Jul 31, 2012

The most impressive thing about John Major`s memoirs is its high literary quality. For a long book written in the relatively short span of two years, it is remarkable how from first page to last it’s always readable, often eloquent and occasionally hilarious, since Major has a huge fund of amusing anecdotes.
Economists who read the book will be pleasantly surprised by the detailed analysis of economic issues in the book, which you don’t always find in politicians’ memoirs. Major’s ambition in life was to become Chancellor of the Exchequer, a dream that he realized in October 1989, when he was 46 years old.
In 1990, as Chancellor, Major promoted a hard-ECU proposal for the European Union, where the European currency would not replace national currencies by fiat, but would compete for market share with them, while being subsidized by the Hard-Ecu Bank. While Major believed in it, it was a half-baked plan, and quickly dismissed by supporters of European Monetary Union as a British wrecking scheme. Now it is of more than historical interest since its leading booster, Sir Michael Butler, has recently recycled it as a way that Greece can reintroduce the drachma without abandoning a “hard” euro.
Major’s most enduring economic achievement as PM was undoubtedly the introduction of inflation targeting as the monetary policy of the Bank of England in October 1992. The inflation indicator chosen was RPIX, the Retail Price Index excluding mortgage interest. In March 1993, when a housing depreciation component was added to the RPI and the RPIX, the measure became equivalent to Canada’s CPI ex mortgage interest. It was, in a sense, the forerunner to the consumer price series with a net acquisitions approach to owner-occupied housing later adopted as an inflation indicator by the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and the Reserve Bank of Australia and likely to be adopted by the European Central Bank in 2015 or thereafter. Meanwhile, the Bank of Canada, the Rip Van Winkle of central banks, continues to target the CPI All-items, whose most important component is the mortgage interest cost index.
Like his successor as PM, Tony Blair, John Major has a contempt for Serbs, which is displayed in his account of the breakup of Yugoslavia. There were millions of Serbs living outside of Serbia in the other Yugoslav republics, and the EU had heard repeatedly from Serb leaders that any breakup of the country would be an invitation to redrawing borders. Canadians can understand this better than most peoples, since there have already been so many plans to redraw Quebec’s borders in the event of separation. Faced with this situation, the leaders of the EU, including Major, acted like children playing with boxes of matches. The people of Yugoslavia were never allowed to vote in a plebiscite on the future of their country as they had a right to do.

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