Thirty bowler-hatted London bankers trooped solemnly into No. n Downing Street last week, on an unprecedented summons from Chancellor of the Exchequer Macmillan. the liveliest man in the government of Anthony Eden. Urbane Harold Macmillan (who delights in his new Threepenny Opera nickname of "Mack the Knife") wanted to impress on London's top bankers the thin edge on which the British economy now rests.

Any new burst of inflation, he feared, would shake foreign confidence in the pound, and bring a new drain on the nation's gold reserve. In his drive to...

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