Abstract

After throwing its reserves and its influence over private banks into battle in a succession of financial crises in the nineteenth century, the Bank of England emerged as central banker to the English, and thus the world, monetary system. The Bank functioned as a central bank in a limited sense: it acted as lender of last resort, but did not take actions, beyond the prevention of financial collapse, to smooth the trade cycle. Nor did it pay explicit attention to financial developments in the rest of the world except to the extent that they affected London.