Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System

Exorbitant Privilege: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System

by Barry Eichengreen
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

For more than half a century, the U.S. dollar has been not just America's currency but the world's. It is used globally by importers, exporters, investors, governments and central banks alike. Nearly three-quarters of all $100 bills circulate outside the United States. The dollar holdings of the Chinese government alone come to more than $1,000 per Chinese resident.

Overview

For more than half a century, the U.S. dollar has been not just America's currency but the world's. It is used globally by importers, exporters, investors, governments and central banks alike. Nearly three-quarters of all $100 bills circulate outside the United States. The dollar holdings of the Chinese government alone come to more than $1,000 per Chinese resident. This dependence on dollars, by banks, corporations and governments around the world, is a source of strength for the United States. It is, as a critic of U.S. policies once put it, America's "exorbitant privilege." However, recent events have raised concerns that this soon may be a privilege lost. Among these have been the effects of the financial crisis and the Great Recession: high unemployment, record federal deficits, and financial distress. In addition there is the rise of challengers like the euro and China's renminbi. Some say that the dollar may soon cease to be the world's standard currency--which would depress American living standards and weaken the country's international influence. In Exorbitant Privilege, one of our foremost economists, Barry Eichengreen, traces the rise of the dollar to international prominence over the course of the 20th century. He shows how the greenback dominated internationally in the second half of the century for the same reasons--and in the same way--that the United States dominated the global economy. But now, with the rise of China, India, Brazil and other emerging economies, America no longer towers over the global economy. It follows, Eichengreen argues, that the dollar will not be as dominant. But this does not mean that the coming changes will necessarily be sudden and dire--or that the dollar is doomed to lose its international status. Challenging the presumption that there is room for only one true global currency--either the dollar or something else--Eichengreen shows that several currencies have shared this international role over long periods. What was true in the distant past will be true, once again, in the not-too-distant future. The dollar will lose its international currency status, Eichengreen warns, only if the United States repeats the mistakes that led to the financial crisis and only if it fails to put its fiscal and financial house in order. The greenback's fate hinges, in other words, not on the actions of the Chinese government but on economic policy decisions here in the United States. Incisive, challenging and iconoclastic, Exorbitant Privilege, which was shortlisted for the FT Goldman Sachs 2011 Best Business Book of the Year, is a fascinating analysis of the changes that lie ahead. It is a challenge, equally, to those who warn that the dollar is doomed and to those who regard its continuing dominance as inevitable.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"A fascinating and readable account of the dollar's rise and potential fall"—The Economist

"A rare combination of macroeconomic mastery, historical erudition, good political instincts and the sort of stubborn common sense that is constantly placing familiar problems in a new light."—Financial Times

"This short, accessible book about the U.S. dollar by Barry Eichengreen may be one of the most important published this year.—Barron's

"[A] brisk primer on the dollar's role in the international monetary system."—Bloomberg News

"Exorbitant Privilege is a book for anyone who has been perplexed why, despite the frequent predictions of the dollar's demise over the last fifty years, it has managed to maintain its position as the world's pre-eminent reserve currency. The book includes both a lively historical account of the dollar's role in the international monetary system and an incisive and balanced discussion of future challenges."—Liaquat Ahamed, author of Lords of Finance

"Short and eminently readable.... In just 177 pages of text, [Eichengreen] provides a wealth of material for both the lay reader and the scholar... You can't do better than Eichengreen for a solid read on the dollar's wild ride."—The American Prospect

"Compact and readable...Eichengreen adds much needed nuance and subtlety to the U.S. dollar debate....is [also] a pithy and amusing history of the international monetary system....for those fascinated by historical figures and events, behind-the-scenes machinations, and the logistical elements that make a complex currency and trade system work, the telling is very well done."—Business Insider

"Barry Eichengreen's book couldn't be more timely... Elegant and pithy."—Finance & Development, IMF.org

"The book, written for the general public, is useful and pleasant to read also by the so-called professionals. Those used to Eichengreens clear and fluent prose will find here a particularly light touch obtained by dropping here and there a good dose of anecdotal hints to lessen the weight of serious history and rigorous economics...provides a masterful users manual for the crisis that began in 2007."—EH.net

"The historical narrative in this book is fascinating and I highly recommend it to both specialists and nonexpert advanced readers."—Journal of Economic History

"This slender and pleasant book is a story of the dollar in the world financial system, and an attempt at speculating on the future of the U.S. currency.... [It] is good reading, contains well organized facts and discussions, and raises important and difficult questions."—Journal of Economic Literature

"[A] detailed and fast-moving analysis of the rise of the greenback as an international currency." —EnlightenmentEconomics.com

"This is a brisk and invigorating account of a century of international monetary developments by one of America's foremost economic historians.... As would be expected, Exorbitant Privilege is extremely well informed, cogently argued, and broadly persuasive. Events and policies, such as the Suez war, the EMS breakdown or the current financial crisis—together with sharp criticism of the excessive deregulation favoured by both Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers—are splendidly documented. Conflicting views of what might happen in the future are clearly put forward and analysed. Unexpectedly, perhaps, the book also displays fairly frequent touches of humour. In other words, it is both erudite and readable."—New Left Review

"Both eloquent and elegant...The book is admirably written and its final message is very clear."—The Economic History Review

"A concentrated dose of common sense... If you're going to read only one book about the economy this election season, make it Barry Eichengreen's Exorbitant Privilege."—The Maui News

"When everyone from Brazil's leader to Sarah Palin questions the dollar's status as a reserve currency, it is time for an expert to sort out the truth from the hyperbole. Barry Eichengreen performs this service with unwavering clarity."—Sebastian Mallaby, Council on Foreign Relations

"Professor Eichengreen has written a truly superb book on the role and global standing of the dollar—past, present and future. Those exposed to the evolution of the globally economy, and that's virtually all of us, will find his book extremely thoughtful and a great read."—Mohamed El-Erian, CEO and co-CIO of PIMCO

"Eichengreen is the master of international money in history and its troubles. Exorbitant Privilege is a fine account of whence it came and a judicious survey of where it might go."—James K. Galbraith, author of The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too

"Barry Eichengreen again demonstrates his ability to integrate economic history and theory with political analysis in order to illuminate the critical issues of international finance. The timely and accessible book is must reading for all concerned with the prospective balance of international power—financial, economic and political—in a multi-polar world."—William H. Janeway, Warburg Pincus

"[S]urprisingly compact and readable book, Eichengreen adds much needed nuance and subtlety to the U.S. dollar debate . . . a pithy and amusing history of the international monetary system . . . those fascinated by historical figures and events, behind-the-scenes machinations, and the logistical elements that make a complex currency and trade system work, the telling is very well done." —BusinessInsider.com

"[A] brief and readable account of how the international monetary system got where it is today and of past efforts, both successful and (mainly) unsuccessful, to reform it." —Foreign Affairs

"[A] timely book on monetary economics and currencies that is clear and easy to read, with elements of drama and excitement." —The Finance Professionals' Post, a publication of the New York Society of Security Analysts

"If you're going to read only one book about the economy this election season, make it Barry Eichengreen's Exorbitant Privilege." —Maui News

"This is a brisk and invigorating account of a century of international monetary developments by one of America's foremost economic historians. As would be expected, Exorbitant Privilege is extremely well informed, cogently argued, and broadly persuasive. Events and policies, such as the Suez war, the EMS breakdown or the current financial crisis—together with sharp criticism of the excessive deregulation favoured by both Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers—are splendidly documented. Conflicting views of what might happen in the future are clearly put forward and analysed. Unexpectedly, perhaps, the book also displays fairly frequent touches of humour. In other words, it is both erudite and readable." Andrea Boltho, he New Left Review

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199779611
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
01/07/2011
Series:
The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Sales rank:
919,503
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Barry Eichengreen is Professor of Political Science and Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. His previous books include The European Economy Since 1945, Global Imbalances and the Lessons of Bretton Woods, Capital Flows and Crises, and Financial Crises and What to Do About Them. He has written for the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and other publications.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >