In England's Cross of Gold, James Ashley Morrison challenges the conventional view that the UK's ruinous return to gold in 1925 was inevitable. Instead, he offers a new perspective on the struggles among elites in London to define and redefine the gold standard—from the first discussions during the Great War; through the titanic ideological clash between Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes; to the final, ill-fated implementation of the "new gold standard."
Following World War I, Churchill promised to restore the ancient English gold standard—and thus Britain's greatness. Keynes portended that this would prove to be one of the most momentous—and ill-advised—decisions in financial history. From the vicious peace settlement at Versailles to the Great Depression, the gold standard was central to the worst disasters of the time. Economically, Churchill's move exacerbated the difficulties of repairing economies shattered by war. Politically, it set countries at odds as each endeavored to amass gold, sowing the seeds of further strife.
England's Cross of Gold, grounded in masterful archival research, reveals that these events turned crucially on the beliefs of a handful of pivotal policymakers. It recasts the legends of Churchill, Keynes, and their collision, and it shows that the gold standard itself was a metaphysical abstraction rooted more in mythology than material reality.
Part One: Introductory
1. Genesis and Exodus: The Tragedy of England's Return to Gold
2. The Road to Calvary: From Orthodoxy to Theocracy Part Two: Orthodoxy
3. The Cunliffe "Consensus"
4. Atop Sinai: More Heat Than Light
5. The Golden Calf: The Public Idolize Gold
6. Commandments: Defining the Law Part Three: Mythology
7. Myths: Theirs and Ours
8. Liberalization: Implementing the Orthodoxy
9. Who Would Control Capital?
10. Keynes's Revolution Part Four: Theocracy
11. Understanding "The Norman Conquest of $4.86"
12. Central Bankers as Saviors?
14. Deposition and Coronation
15. The Sanhedrin: Churchill's Trials
16. Judgment Part Five: Conclusion
17. Faith in History
James Ashley Morrison is Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has published in International Organization, Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Comparative Political Studies, and Review of International Organizations.