THE ORIGINS OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC DISORDER: A Study of United States International Monetary Policy from World War II to the Present by Fred L. Block

THE ORIGINS OF INTERNATIONAL ECONOMIC DISORDER: A Study of United States International Monetary Policy from World War II to the Present

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An intriguing ff not altogether convincing argument that democratic socialism offers the best hope for stabilizing the international monetary system: ""the sum of all the devices by which nations organize their international economic relations."" Block (sociology, Univ. of Pennsylvania) contends that the US was unable to shoulder the responsibilities assumed by Great Britain during the 19th century when imperialistic muscle and the gold standard helped make London the hub of the financial universe. Nonetheless, he asserts, planners (like the New Deal's Harry Dexter White) who borrowed freely from John Maynard Keynes sought to enforce an American hegemony on the world's economic order after WW II, The book surveys major events from the Bretton Woods agreement through OPEC's quadrupling of crude-oil prices and concludes that half-hearted US attempts to maintain economic sway cost it the international dominance that the new order demanded. For capitalistic industrial powers, Block points out, the consequences of an unreformed international monetary system are the coexistence of high unemployment and inflation rates--stagflation. Moreover, he notes, policies designed to solve balance-of-payments problems inevitably export price pressures. His conclusion? Countries that wish to avert future crises must break with liberal economic principles--which require intervention to insulate domestic economies from global pressures. The choices: national capitalism (less viable than in the Thirties and Forties); fascism; and socialism. ""Only democratic socialism,"" Block concludes, ""holds the promise of fulfilling the historic goal of conscious and collective control of the economy."" This, of course, implies its adoption worldwide--but the book still mounts an effective challenge to the conventional wisdom of free enterprisers, and many of their critics.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1977
Publisher: Univ. of California Press