The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets / Edition 1

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Between 1973 and 1980, the cost of crude oil rose suddenly and dramatically, precipitating convulsions in international politics. Conventional wisdom holds that international capital markets adjusted automatically and remarkably well: enormous amounts of money flowed into oil-rich states, and efficient markets then placed that new money in cash-poor Third World economies. David Spiro has followed the money trail, and the story he tells contradicts the accepted beliefs. Most of the sudden flush of new oil wealth didn't go to poor oil-importing countries around the globe. Instead, the United States made a deal with Saudi Arabia to sell it U.S. securities in secret, a deal resulting in a substantial portion of Saudi assets being held by the U.S. government. With this arrangement, the U.S. government violated its agreements with allies in the developed world. Spiro argues that American policymakers took this action to prop up otherwise intolerable levels of U.S. public debt. In effect, recycled OPEC wealth subsidized the debt-happy policies of the U.S. government as well as the debt-happy consumption of its citizenry.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The book provides a good panorama of the global situation after OPEC increased the price of oil in the early 1970s. No previous knowledge of the issue is required, as it is very well explained and the book is well organized. In addition it looks not only at the protagonist countries, the USA and Saudi Arabia, but also includes all the surrounding political actors, and the role they played regarding their own interests."—Gabriela Cano, Journal of Energy Literature

"This study . . . makes a significant contribution to the literature of international political economy. The book also is a useful point of departure for further exploration by historians of finance, economics, and business. The data on capital flows alone constitute a valuable resource for all analysts. . . . The book is closely argued within the author's established methodological framework. It engages the reader in lively argument."—Michael R. Adamson, Business History Review

"With this book, David Spiro delivers a knockout punch to those who assert that the recycling of petrodollars was market driven. Instead, he demonstrates the essential role of American power in that process and, by extension, in the operation and design of the international financial system. All future discussions of 'globalization' will have to take account of Spiro's work."—Ethan B. Kapstein, Stassen Professor of International Peace, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota

"This lively and well-written book combines the best of IR theory, careful empirical research, and muckraking."—James A. Caporaso, University of Washington

"Conventional wisdom has it that markets—and markets alone—recycled the huge OPEC surplus in the mid-1970s. David E. Spiro successfully refutes this argument and demonstrates that the United States played the key role in overcoming the threat to the world economy posed by OPEC. Of equal importance, Spiro's analysis also undermines the argument of those enthusiasts who believe that markets alone now rule the world."—Robert Gilpin, Princeton University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801428845
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/1999
  • Series: Cornell Studies in Political Economy Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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  • Posted April 24, 2009

    A sophisticated presentation opposing the petrodollar recycling market theory

    Chapter one is titled Explaining Petrodollar Recycling and starts out with a little excitement about how the early 1970s international financial markets could collapse due to their inability to recycle petrodollars, then slips into a complex presentation on political science, but still an interesting chapter. Chapters two through five present the author's arguments and supporting data and are a strong case against the generally accepted theory of petrodollar recycling through international markets. Chapter six is a summary of the author's logic and methods for presenting and supporting his arguments. The book is short, only 157 pages, but not being a macroeconomic expert I had to read thoroughly to be sure I understood some of the more detailed financial data analysis.

    I recommend the book to anyone interested in petrodollar recycling. With peak oil nearing and no viable alternative to crude oil, crude oil prices could climb significantly higher and remaining at record levels again create instability in the international financial markets. This book provides insight into the complex issues the US will face trying to absorb huge surpluses from Saudi Arabia as US hegemony continues to fade.

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