It is generally accepted that the a t tempt to introduce sterling convertibility in July 1947 was premature and misguided. So early a date had been resisted to the end by the British government which had hoped, even w h e n on the point of signing the Loan Agreement in December 1945, for a transition period at least six mon ths longer. It was nevertheless caught by surprise w h e n convertibility b rough t on the first and most dramatic of post-war runs on the pound - a run that left no opt ion but suspension five weeks later as dollars drained away at an increasing rate. T h e total outf low of gold and dollars accelerated more than fourfold in 1947, increasing from $900 million in 1946 to $4100 million in 1947; in the third quarter it came near to doubl ing again in comparison w i t h the rest of the year; and in the last full week of convertibility before its suspension on 20 Augus t it reached a peak of $237 million, equivalent to $1000 million per m o n t h . 1 (See figure 6.2, p. 161.)
T h e failure of the experiment was a turning-point in post-war recovery. It marked the end of the respite afforded by the American loan and roused the government to a fuller awareness of the dollar problem. It also put off for many years a renewed a t tempt to introduce currency convertibility: it was not unti l the end of 1958 that it came into being de jure a l though convertibility de facto had existed since the spring of 1955.