A Short History of the MMF Society

The very first gathering of monetary economists in the UK took place under Harry Johnson’s aegis at Hove in October 1969. The meeting was held to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Radcliffe Report, and to take stock of the progress made in UK monetary economics since its publication. The Hove meeting pointed to the need for more frequent meetings among monetary economists. It was from that event that the Money Study Group was born, with a key objective of promoting research into monetary economics in the United Kingdom.

Not surprisingly, in 1970 it published its first major book of readings: Money in Britain 1959-1969 (Croome, D. R. and H. G. Johnson, (eds.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1970) followed by The Current Inflation (H.G. Johnson and A.R. Nobey (eds) Macmillan, 1971), Issues in Monetary Economics (H.G. Johnson and A.R. Nobey (eds.) Oxford University Press 1974). Many subsequent publications followed including Surveys in Monetary Economics (C.J. Green and D.T. Llewellyn (eds.) Blackwell, 1989) to mark the 20th anniversary of the existence of the Money Study Group, with a forward by founding members David Laidler, Robert Nobay and Michael Parkin (Harry Johnson having died in 1977). That it had lasted so long is a remarkable feat since it had “no constitution, and the executive committee (which comprised Harry Johnson and [David Laidler, Robert Nobay and Michael Parkin]) never met formally.”

“Nevertheless, [they] were clear about [their] objectives. These were summarized as follows in the preface to one of [their]  publications:

The Money Study Group was formed in 1969 with the dual objectives of bringing together people in the United Kingdom concerned with the understanding of and research into the British monetary system, whether as academic scholars, bank economists, or official of the Bank of England and the Treasury, and promoting research into monetary economics in the United Kingdom. The Group subscribes to no particular school of monetary doctrine: its membership includes Keynesians, monetarists, empiricists and institutionalists (Johnson and Nobay, 1974).”

Ever since the pattern that was established has been followed: a number of publications have been produced from the proceedings of special events, annual conferences and seminars to bring together people in the United Kingdom concerned with the understanding of and research into the British monetary system.

A growing number of interested individuals were drawn to the regular seminars and the annual conference to the extent that by the late 1980s and early 1990s the conference was a three-day event, and papers were presented in parallel sessions. Finance became a significant component of the activities of the Money Study Group, as did macroeconomics, which dictated the change in its name to the Money, Macro and Finance Research Group in 1991.

While many of its core activities have remained the same, and the fundamental objectives are still paramount, further growth in its activities occurred. Despite this, and the appointment of successive Chairs, Secretaries and Treasurers and a larger Committee to oversee its activities, there was still no constitution and a fair amount of informality in MMF meetings. This could not go on indefinitely, not least because the MMF had a larger financial balance, held on our behalf within the university system, and greater commitments.

The decision was made to seek charitable status in 2019, and we have now become the Money Macro and Finance Society with Trustees to formally oversee our activities.

Some may lament the greater size and formality compared to earlier years, but the MMF now serves ‘people in the United Kingdom concerned with the understanding of and research into the British monetary system’ to a greater extent than ever before:

  • It organises Annual Conferences across the length and breadth of the United Kingdom and outside of the UK;
  • An annual Special Issue of the Manchester School has been published since 1990 containing a subset of papers presented at the Annual Conference including papers by our distinguished guest speakers;
  • It organises a Policy Conference in collaboration with Bloomberg inviting current and former policymakers, academics and professional economists to discuss current policy issues;
  • It hosts a PhD Conference to provide advanced PhD economists entering the job market with an opportunity to present their research to their peers and leading researchers in the field in order to obtain feedback and practice the presentation of their key research ideas.
  • It issues regular calls for one day workshop meetings around research topics that have emerged as promising and important for research or policy;
  • It has developed links with equivalent research groups in Europe including France, Germany, Ireland and Italy;  and the international SUERF (Société Universitaire Européene de Recherches Finançières) and the Society of Professional Economists;
  • It has vastly increased its membership and is actively seeking to address the lack of diversity in economics.

In Summary

  1. From its beginnings in 1969 the Money Study Group has morphed into the Money Macro and Finance Society.
  2. The Society is now firmly established in the profession through the quality of its conferences, breadth of its membership across the UK and across academic, policymaking and professional groups.
  3. The MMF promotes discussion of new ideas and provides a facility by which academics; researchers, policy makers (especially from the Bank of England and the Treasury) and practitioners in the City can meet and debate issues of current importance.
  4. The MMF provides the principal open forum for serious broad-based discussion of macro, finance and monetary economics on a regular basis in the UK.
  5. The MMF recognises the lack of diversity in economics and actively promotes inclusion of early career researchers, women and other under-represented groups in its activities.

The MMF at Fifty

Alec Chrystal and Forrest Capie have written a history of the MMF, from its origins to the present day.