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Margaret Thatcher's economic legacy


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    Ronald Reagan (R) and former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wave after their arrival in Camp David, on December 22, 1984.

    - ARCHIVES UPI/AFP/Getty Images

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    Former French President François Mitterrand (L) and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher (R) sign the Canterbury treaty between France and Britain for the construction of a double rail tunnel under the English channel on February 12, 1986.

    - DERRICK CEYRAC/AFP/Getty Images

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    Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher greets curious Moscovites who gathered to see her on March 29, 1987 in Moscow, during her official visit to the USSR.

    - DANIEL JANIN/AFP/Getty Images

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    Former Soviet Leader Mikhail Gorbachev (L) listens to Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's speech in London on April 6, 1989 during a news conference outside 10 Downing Street after the two leader's last round of talks.

    - GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images

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    British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher strokes a Belgian Blue bull as visiting a Shropshire agricultural college on June 07, 1989 in Newport, England.

    - JOHNNY EGGITT/AFP/Getty Images

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    Former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher as she meets U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron inside Number 10 Downing Street on June 8, 2010 in London, England.

    - Suzanne Plunkett - WPA Pool/Getty Images

Margaret Thatcher, Britain's first female Prime Minister, died Monday from a stroke. She was 87. Known as the "Iron Lady" for her strong and uncompromising leadership style, Thatcher led a conservative economic resurgence in the U.K. during the 1980s.

Thatcher, who served office from 1979 to 1990, reduced the power of labor unions, privatized state-owned airlines, car companies and other assets, and championed financial deregulation. As a result of the so-called "Thatcher revolution," Britain became more entrepreneurial, and according to some, more efficient.

"She shook up and modernized Britain, perhaps more than any other British peace time leader in the twentieth century," says Marketplace's London Bureau Chief, Stephen Beard.

Yet Thatcher's policies, while transformative, weren't lauded by all. Shipbuilders, coal miners, and others in industries where her policies led to high unemployment, bitterly resented her economic influence. The recent financial crisis of 2007 and 2008 also raised new questions about Thatcher's legacy. Even among those who supported the former prime minister, there is now a sense that she may have allowed Britain to become too dependent on banking and finance. 

To hear more about Margaret Thatcher and her impact in and outside of the U.K., click on the audio player above.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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In fairness we should also remember that Margaret Thatcher was responsible for atrocities in Northern Ireland that could easily be termed war crimes (they would certainly have been characterized that way if England had been a third world country).

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