Questions for Margaret Thatcher
In May 1996, I was able to meet former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher at the 50th Anniversary of the Foundation for Economic Education at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York.
We met with Lady Thatcher at a private reception before the main banquet. She did not seem very animated due to jet lag, but then I asked her about her recent visit to Brigham Young University, where she received an honorary degree.
I had read that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir had been there and sang a famous British hymn. However, they left out one verse. Lady Thatcher got up in her acceptance speech and recited the omitted verse from memory.
When I reminded her of the story, she repeated the verse, in front of all in the receiving line.
During the main banquet, where Thatcher was the keynote speaker, I was asked by FEE president Hans Sennholz to ask the first question.
In my question I noted that unemployment in Europe was in double digits and the region was struggling with strong labor unions, regulations and other forms of socialist legislation.
My question: Why have free-market think tanks failed in influencing Europe to move toward free market?
Her answer: She was highly optimistic that the free-market think tanks would still rule the day, and Europe was headed toward an open market as part of the European Union (one currency, single market for labor, capital and money).
Result: Her surprising optimism prompted me to be more bullish on European stocks, which have since then hit all time highs.