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Sir Leo Pliatzky's new book is about the Treasury and Treasury policies under Mrs Thatcher's administration. As a former mandarin himself, with 27 years experience in the Treasury, the author examines how the Treasury and its functions have developed since his time and how it is now organized. He discusses its relationships with the rest of Whitehall, with Parliament and, in particular with No. 10 Downing Street. The book describes the evolution of policy, from 1979 to the present, in five main areas - public expenditure, the management of the civil service, privatization, monetary policy and budgetary policy. The book contains an authoritative description of the public expenditure system and cash planning. It explains why attempts to cut public expenditure have not worked, while privatization has succeeded beyond all expectations. The chapters on monetary policy trace the development of the medium term financial strategy from its inception in 1980 and shows how the Treasury has discarded the original concept of controlling the money supply, but has nevertheless stuck to the twin instruments of interest rates and cuts in public borrowing in order to bring inflation down, leading to the 1988 Budget when public borrowing was eliminated altogether and direct taxes were slashed. The sequel to the Budget, when inflation and the balance of payments went wrong and interest rates escalated, leaves question marks about the adequacy of the instruments of policy and a conclusion that monetarism has not solved the dilemmas of the British economy.
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