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Benn Steil

Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics

Expertise

International finance; financial markets; economic policy.

Programs

Center for Geoeconomic Studies

Bio

Dr. Benn Steil is senior fellow and director of international economics at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He is also the founding editor of International Finance, a top scholarly economics journal, and lead writer of CFR's Geo-Graphics economics blog. Prior to his joining CFR in 1999, he was director of the International Economics Programme at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London. He came to the Institute in 1992 from a Lloyd's of London Tercentenary Research Fellowship at Nuffield College, Oxford, where he received his MPhil and DPhil (PhD) in economics. He also holds a BSc in economics summa cum laude from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Steil has written and spoken widely on international finance, monetary policy, financial markets, and economic history. He has testified before the U.S. House, Senate, and CFTC on securities market and monetary issues. He is a regular op-ed contributor at the Wall Street Journal and Forbes. His latest book, The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, which won the 2013 Spear's Book Award in Financial History, was shortlisted for the 2014 Lionel Gelber Prize ("the world's most important prize for non-fiction," according to the Economist), is currently shortlisted for the 2014 Arthur Ross Book Award, and was the top book-of-the-year choice in Bloomberg's poll of global policymakers and CEOs. The book has been called "a triumph of economic and diplomatic history" by the Financial Times, "a superb history" by the Wall Street Journal, "the gold standard on its subject" by the New York Times, and "the publishing event of the season" by Bloomberg's Tom Keene. His previous book, Money, Markets and Sovereignty, was awarded the 2010 Hayek Book Prize. Financial Statecraft: The Role of Financial Markets in American Foreign Policy was named one of the "Best Business Books of 2006" by Library Journal and an "Outstanding Academic Title of 2006" by Choice.

The Marshall Plan

When economic and political turmoil hit a critical part of the world, calls pour forth for "a new Marshall Plan" to alleviate hardship, calm passions, and stir hope. Hillary Clinton invoked the Marshall Plan in the context of the Arab Spring; Peer Steinbrueck contrasted it glowingly to Angela Merkel's policies toward the eurozone; George Soros pleaded for one to counter Russia in Ukraine. Indeed, the Marshall Plan, the most ambitious and visionary element of the United States' immediate post–World War II foreign policy, has become virtually synonymous with enlightened foreign intervention. Seen widely in hindsight as the best of times for American diplomacy, the years of the Marshall Plan were also among the most fraught and challenging for those who crafted it under enormous strain in a matter of months. Much as my most recent book, The Battle of Bretton Woods, was a response to calls from world leaders for "a new Bretton Woods" in the wake of the financial crisis, my forthcoming book, A World Upended: The Making and Meaning of the Marshall Plan, will be a response to the current conjurings of that legend.

This project is made possible through the support of the Smith Richardson Foundation.

Geo-Graphics

Can hidden Chinese buying of U.S. Treasuries through Belgium explain curious movements in U.S. asset prices? Is the BRICS contingent reserve arrangement a substitute for the International Monetary Fund? What can the price of iPad Minis tell us about currency wars? Dinah Walker and I examine these and other geoeconomic questions, with great visuals, in our regular Geo-Graphics blog posts.

International Finance

Published three times a year, International Finance (IF), which I edit for Wiley publishers, is a top scholarly journal that takes on the challenging, topical questions that central bankers and treasury officials care about. In addition to our double-refereed articles, IF publishes extended book reviews and original commentary pieces by top current and former policymakers, like Alan Greenspan. Free online access to one article in the most recent issue is always available on the Center for Geoeconomic Studies web page.

Featured Publications

All Publications

Foreign Affairs Article

Taper Trouble

Author: Benn Steil

Benn Steil's essay in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs looks at the international consequences of U.S. monetary policy action. He argues that developing-nation governments are coming to see the need for engineering current-account surpluses and large dollar-reserve stockpiles as a means of insulating themselves against Fed-induced capital-flow whiplash. As this amounts to "currency manipulation" in the eyes of U.S. policymakers, trade tensions are apt to grow.

See more in Ukraine; United States; Monetary Policy; International Finance

Foreign Affairs Article

The End of National Currency

Author: Benn Steil

Global financial instability has sparked a surge in "monetary nationalism" -- the idea that countries must make and control their own currencies. But globalization and monetary nationalism are a dangerous combination, a cause of financial crises and geopolitical tension. The world needs to abandon unwanted currencies, replacing them with dollars, euros, and multinational currencies as yet unborn.

See more in International Finance

Article

The Dunkirk Diplomat

Author: Benn Steil
History Today

Benn Steil's article in the June 2013 edition of History Today takes a critical look at John Maynard Keynes's performance as a diplomat during World War II, concluding that Britain had made a mistake sending him to Washington. His temperament and overinvestment in his personal legacy resulted in Britain paying a high political and economic price for American financial assistance.

See more in United States; Economics; History and Theory of International Relations

Article

The Future of the Dollar: Currency Challenges in a Globalized World

Author: Benn Steil
Harvard International Review

Benn Steil argues that the world has no attractive alternatives to the current dollar-based international monetary system, but that the dollar's days of coasting on the accomplishments of the Volcker Fed are over. The Fed must demonstrate to the world anew that the dollar is a reliable long-term store of value.

See more in International Finance; Financial Crises

Recent Activity from Geo-Graphics

Events

McKinsey Executive Roundtable Series in International Economics

Director: Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics
September 1, 2002—Present

This speaker series features panel debates involving the world's most important economic policymakers and thinkers.

This meeting series is sponsored by the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies and the Corporate Program.

C. Peter McColough Roundtable Series on International Economics

Director: Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics
October 1, 1996—Present

Ten times a year, this prestigious speaker series brings to CFR a leading economic policymaker or commentator to address global issues.

This meeting series is sponsored by the Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies and the Corporate Program.

CFR Events

Media Conference Call

Benn Steil on Federal Reserve Exit Strategy

Speaker:

Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, CNBC
May 7, 2013

This meeting is on the record.

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Conference Panel Session

The Future of the Eurozone

Speakers:

Jacob Kirkegaard, Research Fellow, Peter G. Peterson Institute For International Economics, Thomas Philippon, John L. Vogelstein Faculty Fellow and Associate Professor of Finance, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University, Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Frank Brosens, Founder and Principal, Taconic Capital Advisors
November 10, 2011 11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Conference Panel Session

Currency Wars, Capital Controls, and the Outlook for the International Monetary System

Discussants:

Ajay Shah, Professor, National Institute for Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi, Alan M. Taylor, Senior Advisor, Morgan Stanley; Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for the Evolution of the Global Economy, University of California, Davis, Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, Money, Markets, and Sovereignty

Presider:

Sebastian Mallaby, Director, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, and Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics,, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite
November 17, 2010

This meeting is on the record.

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Conference Panel Session

Currency Wars, Capital Controls, and the Outlook for the International Monetary System

Speakers:

Ajay Shah, Professor, National Institute for Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi, Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of Interntional Economics, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, Money, Markets, and Sovereignty, Alan M. Taylor, Senior Advisor, Morgan Stanley; Professor of Economics and Director, Center for the Evolution of the Global Economy, University of California, Davis

Presider:

Sebastian Mallaby, Director, Maurice R. Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies, and Paul A. Volcker Senior Fellow for International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations; Author, More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite
November 17, 2010 8:00-9:45 a.m.

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Conference Panel Session

Fixing Finance: Reactions and Over-Reactions

Speakers:

Peter R. Fisher, BlackRock, Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, David S. Scharfstein, Harvard Business School

Presider:

Alan S. Murray, Wall Street Journal
May 12, 2009 11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ Washington

Money, Markets, and Sovereignty

Speaker:

Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations; Coauthor, "Money, Markets, and Sovereignty"

Presider:

Reuben Jeffery III, Former Undersecretary for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State
April 20, 2009 6:00-6:30 p.m. - Reception
6:30-7:30 p.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

The G-20 London Summit

Speakers:

Richard Clarida, C. Lowell Harriss Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Columbia University; Executive Vice President and Global Strategic Advisor, PIMCO, Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations
April 1, 2009 7:45-8:00 a.m. - Breakfast Reception
8:00-9:00 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Conference Panel Session

A Second Look at the Great Depression and New Deal, Session One: The 1920s - Bubble, Growth, or Gold?

Introductory Speaker:

Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations

Panelists:

Michael Bordo, Professor of Economics and Director, Center for Monetary and Financial History, Rutgers University, Edward C. Prescott, 2004 Nobel Laureate in Economic Sciences; W. P. Carey Chair of Economics, W. P. Carey School of Business, Arizona State University, Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Sylla, Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets, and Professor of Economics, Leonard N. Stern School of Business, New York University

Presider:

Robert E. Rubin, Co-Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations
March 30, 2009

This meeting is not for attribution.

ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ New York

Money, Markets, and Sovereignty

Speaker:

Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations
March 10, 2009 5:30-7:00 p.m. - Cocktail Reception and Book Signing with informal remarks by Richard N. Haass at 6:00 PM

This meeting is on the record.

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General Meeting ⁄ New York

McKinsey Executive Roundtable Series in International Economics: Crisis and Capitalism: Does History Suggest Where We're Headed?

Speakers:

Michael Bordo, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Monetary and Financial History, Rutgers University, Jerry Muller, Professor of History, Catholic University of America, Robert J. Shiller, Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics, Yale University, Richard Sylla, Henry Kaufman Professor of History of Financial Institutions and Markets, New York University

Presider:

Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations
January 12, 2009 7:45-8:00 a.m. - Breakfast
8:00-9:15 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Conference Panel Session

Symposium on the U.S.-Japan Partnership, Session Two: The Global Economy - Instabilities and Reforms

Panelists:

Takenaka Heizo, Professor and Director, Global Security Research Institute, Keio University, Roger M. Kubarych, Henry Kaufman Adjunct Senior Fellow for International Economics and Finance, Council on Foreign Relations, Benn Steil, Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Paul Sheard, Former Global Chief Economist, Lehman Brothers
December 1, 2008

This meeting is not for attribution.

ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ New York

The Financial Crisis: Where Do We Go From Here?

Speakers:

Nouriel Roubini, Professor of Economics, Stern School of Business, New York University; Chairman, RGE Monitor, Brad W. Setser, Fellow for Geoeconomics, Council on Foreign Relations, Benn Steil, Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Mortimer B. Zuckerman, Editor-in-Chief, U.S. News & World Report
September 25, 2008 7:45-8:00 a.m. - Breakfast Reception
8:00-9:00 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

Symposium ⁄ Mineapolis

2008 Foreign Policy Symposium: Foreign Policy Challenges Facing the Next Administration

Speakers:

Edward Alden, Bernard L. Schwartz Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations, Kim R. Holmes, Vice President, Foreign and Defense Policy Studies, Heritage Foundation, Michael Levi, David M. Rubenstein Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment, Council on Foreign Relations, Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

Presider:

Richard N. Haass, President, Council on Foreign Relations
September 2, 2008

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ New York

McKinsey Executive Roundtable Series in International Economics: The Falling Dollar - Should We Worry?

Presider:

Michael J. Elliott, Editor, Time International

Speakers:

Richard Clarida, C. Lowell Harriss Professor of Economics, Columbia University, James Grant, Founder and Editor, Grant's Interest Rate Observer, Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations, John B. Taylor, Mary and Robert Raymond Professor of Economics, Stanford University; Bowen H. and Janice Arthur McCoy Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution
December 18, 2007 7:45-8:00 a.m. - Breakfast
8:00-9:15 a.m. - Meeting

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ New York

C. Peter McColough Roundtable Series on International Economics: Where Is Globalization Headed? History's Greatest Thinkers Weigh In

Speaker:

Jerry Muller, Professor of History, Catholic University of America

Presider:

Benn Steil, Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations
October 25, 2006

This meeting is not for attribution.

ListenWatch

General Meeting ⁄ New York

McKinsey Executive Rountable Series in International Economics: The SEC in a Globalizing Securities Market - A Conversation with the Past Four Chairmen

Presider:

Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations

Speakers:

Richard C. Breeden, Chairman, Richard C. Breeden & Co.; former Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission (1989-1993), William H. Donaldson, Chairman & CEO, Donaldson Enterprises, Inc.; former Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission (2003-2005), Arthur Levitt, Senior Adviser, The Carlyle Group; former Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission (1993-2001), Harvey L. Pitt, CEO, Kalorama Partners; former Chairman, Securities and Exchange Commission (2001-2003)
February 22, 2006

This meeting is on the record.

ListenWatch

General Meeting

Republican National Convention: Council on Foreign Relations Foreign Policy Discussion

Introductory Speakers:

Clyde Tuggle, Honorary Vice Chairman,, Council on Foreign Relations, Maurice R. Greenberg

Speakers:

Elizabeth C. Economy, Max Boot, Benn Steil, Stephen E. Flynn
August 31, 2004

This meeting is not for attribution.

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Press/Panels

Video Interview

Tensions at the G20 Summit

As the G20 Summit continues in St. Petersburg, Benn Steil weighs in on Russian-American relations and emerging economies' concerns about shifts in U.S. monetary policy.

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Video Interview

The Fed's Communication Campaign

Benn Steil discusses the market's reaction to Ben Bernanke's announcement that the Fed may wind down its bond purchasing program.

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Video Interview

G8 Summit: All Talk, No Action?

Benn Steil discusses the G8 Summit and the eurozone economy with Doug Holtz-Eakin and Jeffrey Frankel on The Kudlow Report.

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Video Interview

Who Will be the Next Fed Chairman?

Who might succeed Bernanke as the Fed's Chairman? Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the future of the Fed.

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Video Interview

Currency Wars and Establishing a New World Currency Order - Is It Possible?

With all the discussion of currency wars, BNN looks at whether establishing a new global monetary order in the fashion of Bretton Woods is ever again possible with Benn Steil, Senior Fellow and Director of International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White and the Making of a New World Order.

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Video Interview

S&P 500 & Dow Close at Record Highs

The markets enjoyed another strong day thanks to strong economic data, reports CNBC's Seema Mody. Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, and Kyle Harrington, Harrington Capital Management, discuss.

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Video Interview

Lang & O'Leary Exchange

Amanda Lang and Kevin O'Leary take you inside the business world with their trade mark thought-provoking coverage. Benn Steil dicusses the significance of Bretton Woods and why he decided to write a book about the conference. Interview begins at 33:50.

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Radio Interview

Examining Bretton Woods

British dominance of global finance came to a screeching halt in the modest rooms of a hotel at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. Meghna Chakrabarti, Anthony Brooks, and Benn Steil take a look at the epic showdown that took place there and what we can learn from the architects of the world's financial system.

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Video Interview

Cyprus: Where Things Stand

The EU says Cyprus must put forward an alternative rescue plan, with CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera & Steve Sedgwick. Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, weighs in.

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Video Interview

What's Next for Europe?

CNBC's Michelle Caruso-Cabrera reports on the latest details of the impact from the Greek elections; and Andrew Busch, BMO Capital Markets and Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, weigh in. "If we don't recapitalize the Spanish banking sector, we won't have time for the types of reforms we want," says Steil.

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Video Interview

Europe's Crisis Grows

Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, offers insight on what could happen next as Europe's debt crisis escalates.

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Video Interview

A Whiff of Deflation?

CNBC's Larry Kudlow discusses whether deflation could be on the horizon. Rebecca Patterson, JP Morgan Asset Management; Zane Brown, Lord Abbett; and Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, also weigh in on the markets.

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Video Interview

Is There a European 'Doomsday' in the Making?

Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, discusses France's new Socialist president and Greece's political system, as voters rebel against the bitter pill of austerity and recession.

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Video Interview

Will Greek Deal Save Europe?

Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, and Dan Speckhard, former U.S. ambassador to Greece, discuss Greece's second bailout package and how it will impact Europe's ability to fix its debt troubles.

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Video Interview

Draghi: 2012 Outlook No Better for EU

Will the euro zone get its act together in 2012? Discussing what Europe needs to do to get out of trouble, Dan Greenhaus, BTIG, and Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations.

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Video Interview

Will the ECB Break Out the Bazooka?

Benn Steil, Director of International Economics, Council on Foreign Relations, discusses the EU agreement and whether the ECB will break out a bazooka and start buying up sovereign debt.

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Video Interview

Good News Out of Europe?

CNBC's Simon Hobbs has the story on France and Germany's efforts to get fiscal integration among eurozone countries. Discussing whether Europe will get it done, Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations; Andrew Busch, BMO Capital Markets; and Nicholas Burns, Harvard University professor.

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Video Interview

Is Europe Back From the Brink?

Do Greece and Italy's new leaders have what it takes to fix the eurozone crisis? Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, and Philippa Malmgren, Principalis Asset Management, weigh in.

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Video Interview

Greek Government Collapse Imminent

The government of Prime Minister George Papandreou is teetering on the verge of collapse after he abandoned the referendum on the EU package. With NBC's Michelle Kosinski; Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations; and Nick Economides, Advisor to Central Bank of Greece.

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Video Interview

What's Next in the Euro Zone?

CNBC's Simon Hobbs, reports the latest details on fears that the euro summit deals are falling apart. Benn Steil, Council on Foreign Relations, and Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University professor, provide perspective on what needs to happen to solve Europe's growing crisis.

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