The Economic Government of the World: 1933–2023

Farrar. Nov. 2023. 1,024p. ISBN 9780374146412. $45. ECON
Daunton’s (emeritus, economic history, Univ. of Cambridge; Trusting Leviathan) book is a rather exhaustive and reflective history of the development of the governance of the world economy over the past 90 years. It discusses policies (floating exchange rates), legislation (the Trade Expansion Act of 1962), organizations (the International Monetary Fund, or IMF), and people, such as leaders, policymakers, and theoreticians. The post–World War II economic order established in Bretton Woods, NH, in 1944 included the IMF and the World Bank that provided for rules-based decision-making and encouraged multilateral trade, while allowing countries to pursue their own domestic policies, Daunton writes. This lasted until the early 1970s, which saw a radical turn to floating exchange rates, freer flow of capital between countries, and a deprioritizing of national economic policies, while the crises of the 2007–09 Great Recession and the COVID pandemic brought no new international economic order. Throughout, Daunton advocates for a more equitable economy. He also discusses the developing world and the euro.
VERDICT This economic history will be appreciated by readers with a sophisticated background in the field.
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