Who Broke the Bank of England?
In the summer of 1992, hedge fund manager George Soros was contemplating the possibility that the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) would break down. Designed to pave the way for a full-scale European Monetary Union, the ERM was a system of fixed exchange rates linking together twelve members of the European Union, including Britain, France, Germany, and Italy. However, the impact of German reunification after 1989 had created significant strains within the system. Moreover, financial deregulation and the growth of cross-border flows of "hot" money increased the likelihood that a speculative attack on one or more ERM currencies might succeed. Soros had to decide which currencies to bet against. The Italian lira? The British pound? The French franc? Or all three? The result could determine the success or failure of the project for a single European currency.