Capital Rules: The Construction of Global Finance

By Rawi Abdelal

Listen to a short interview with Rawi AbdelalHost: Chris Gondek - Producer: Heron & Crane

The rise of global financial markets in the last decades of the twentieth century was premised on one fundamental idea: that capital ought to flow across country borders with minimal restriction and regulation. Freedom for capital movements became the new orthodoxy.

In an intellectual, legal, and political history of financial globalization, Rawi Abdelal shows that this was not always the case. Transactions routinely executed by bankers, managers, and investors during the 1990s--trading foreign stocks and bonds, borrowing in foreign currencies--had been illegal in many countries only decades, and sometimes just a year or two, earlier.

How and why did the world shift from an orthodoxy of free capital movements in 1914 to an orthodoxy of capital controls in 1944 and then back again by 1994? How have such standards of appropriate behavior been codified and transmitted internationally? Contrary to conventional accounts, Abdelal argues that neither the U.S. Treasury nor Wall Street bankers have preferred or promoted multilateral, liberal rules for global finance. Instead, European policy makers conceived and promoted the liberal rules that compose the international financial architecture. Whereas U.S. policy makers have tended to embrace unilateral, ad hoc globalization, French and European policy makers have promoted a rule-based, "managed" globalization. This contest over the character of globalization continues today.

Drawing on extensive documentary evidence, as well as dozens of interviews with high-level finance officials and midlevels bureaucrats, [Abdelal] tells a fascinating (and largely unknown) tale: how a clutch of French socialists helped to upend economic orthodoxy and lead the charge for lifting restrictions on capital flows within Europe and throughout the world...The book is a mix of accessible political history and counterintuitive insight, bringing to our attention one of the most important, and least appreciated, developments in the postwar global economy.--Matthew Rees"Wall Street Journal" (02/14/2007)


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1 $25.00 9780674034556 No volume discount available.

About the Paperback

Publisher Not available
Publish date 09/01/2009
Pages 304
ISBN-13 9780674034556
ISBN-10 0674034554
Language English

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