Death of a monetarist

Sir Alan Walters, one of Mrs Thatcher’s key economic advisers, has died at the age of 82. Though he always tried to shun media attention, Sir Alan attracted a considerable amount of it when he clashed publicly with the then Chancellor, Nigel Lawson, over the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). When faced with the choice from Nigel Lawson that either Alan Walters went or he did, Mrs Thatcher famously chose her adviser over her Chancellor. This lent Sir Alan a degree of infamy in economic circles and he is perhaps known best as one of the most influential monetarists of the period. Sir Alan was an early advocate of money supply targeting and always argued that the money supply should not be manipulated for political reasons. His advice was also key in the budget of 1981 which raised taxes in the middle of a recession, something that in this current recession would appear to be unthinkable.

Thatcher’s economic guru dies Independent (6/1/09)
Nigel Lawson and Thatcher’s guru in a political bloodbath Telegraph (5/1/09)
Mrs Thatcher always agreed with Alan Times Online (5/1/09)
Thatcher pays tribute to Walters BBC News Online (5/1/09)
Thatcher economic adviser Walters dies The Herald (6/1/09)
Sir Alan Walters, Thatcher’s economic guru, dies aged 82 Times Online (5/1/09)
Sir Alan Walters Telegraph (6/1/09)
Mrs Thatcher’s monetarist guru The Economist (6/1/09)


  1. Write a short paragraph setting out the key influences of Sir Alan Walters on economic policy in the 1980s and 1990s.
  2. Explain what is meant by money supply targeting.
  3. Discuss the effectiveness of money supply targeting in combatting inflation in the 1980s.
  4. Examine whether money supply targeting might once again be an effective tool in the monetary policy ‘armoury’.