John Wiggins CMG

Category: 1960s /  All Harkness Stories /  Economics, Finance & Business /  Politics & Public Services / 

John Wiggins CMG (HF 1969-71) read classics and history at Oxford before joining HM Treasury in 1961. Involvement in an intended reform of social security (aborted by the result of the 1970 election) sharpened his interest in the impact of macro-economic policy on the development of society. At Harvard he acquired an academic background in different aspects of economic policy as well as in econometrics and statistics. Back in the Treasury he spent most of the 1970s on taxation and monetary policy, and was Principal Private Secretary to the Chancellor (1980-81). He was Head of the Oil Division at the Department of energy (1982-84) and in the Cabinet Secretariat (1985-86). Since he was known to be sceptical about management of the economy by reference to monetary statistics, and thus ineligible for senior posts in the Thatcherite Treasury, he moved to the Department of Education where he was Deputy Secretary until 1992. Thereafter he was the British Member of the European Court of Auditors until end-2001, where he pioneered the annual report on EU accounts required by the Maastricht Treaty. While his Harkness experience was probably bad for his position in the Treasury, his experience in the UK and EU public services, combined with his MPA from Harvard, qualified him to undertake public finance reviews for the World Bank and the European Commission in more than 20 countries since 2002. With his wife Jenny he has continued to go mountaineering and skiing, tastes he acquired travelling around the US during his Harkness years.