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New Book Assesses Rising Importance of Financial Markets in U.S. Foreign Policy

January 17, 2006
Council on Foreign Relations

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Growth in Capital Flows Generating Diplomatic and Security Challenges

January 17, 2006—As trade flows expanded and trade agreements proliferated after World War II, governments—most notably the United States—came increasingly to use their power over imports and exports to influence the behavior of other countries. But trade is not the only way in which nations interact economically. Over the past two decades, another form of economic exchange has risen to a level of vastly greater significance and political concern: the purchase and sale of financial assets across borders. Nearly $2 trillion worth of currency now moves cross-border every day, roughly 90 percent of which is accounted for by financial flows unrelated to trade in goods and services—a stunning inversion of the figures in 1970.

In their incisive new book, Financial Statecraft: the Role of Financial Markets in American Foreign Policy, Council Director of International Economics Benn Steil and the Kauffman Foundation’s Robert Litan explore how the dramatic rise in capital flows has produced the hot-button issues of recent American financial statecraft, such as currency crises, terrorist financing, and capital markets sanctions.  Steil and Litan explain the roots of the flawed economic analyses that have typically guided policy to date, and lay out a new agenda that aligns America’s financial market interventions with its economic ambitions and security needs. The authors criticize recent efforts to drag the SEC into “economic warfare” directed at China and Russia. They tout highly successful programs in Ecuador and El Salvador to replace their currencies with the U.S. dollar, and call for active congressional and administration efforts to assist further “dollarization” abroad as the most effective means of eliminating developing country currency crises.

Financial Statecraft was written under the auspices of the Maurice R. Greenberg Centerfor Geoeconomic Studiesand demonstrates the Council’s ongoing commitment to work that examines the interconnection of economics and foreign policy.

Benn Steil is Director of International Economics at the Council on Foreign Relations and Editor of International Finance.

Robert E. Litan is Vice President of Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation and Senior Fellow in the Economic Studies Program at the Brookings Institution.


Advance Praise for Financial Statecraft

“Financial Statecraft should be required reading for those who conduct U.S. foreign policy as well as everyone who cares about it. A lot of people are struggling to define America’s role in the world in the twenty-first century, but no comprehensive analysis of the opportunities and risks will now be complete without reference to this insightful book.”

Jeffrey E. Garten, Juan Trippe Professor of International Trade, Finance, and Business at the Yale School of Management, former Undersecretary of Commerce for International Trade

 “Benn Steil and Robert Litan have written the first book devoted to financial statecraft, and it is essential reading for anyone interested in the critical issue of influencing the international capital flows that make an integrated global economy function. As one who was directly involved in a variety of the issues so thoughtfully and creatively discussed in Financial Statecraft, I can say without equivocation that Steil and Litan have performed a signal service in helping us better understand the tools of financial statecraft and the best ways to employ them for the benefit of the United States and the world economy.”

Stuart Eizenstat, former U.S. Ambassador to the EU and Deputy Secretary of Treasury

“Financial statecraft is much practiced, little analyzed. This fine book discusses what it is, how it has been applied by the United States, what its (often severe) limitations are, and what its potential is. Altogether, an excellent exposition of a complicated subject for scholars, journalists, and policymakers alike.”

Richard N. Cooper, Boas Professor of International Economics, Harvard University

“From the ‘Who Dunnit?’ to the ‘When Should We Intervene?’ questions of financial crises, this important new book is valuable reading for serious students and practitioners of financial policy.”

Glenn Hubbard, Dean of Columbia Business School and former Chairman of Council of Economic Advisers


Founded in 1921, the Council on Foreign Relations is an independent, national membership organization and a nonpartisan center for scholars dedicated to producing and disseminating ideas so that individual and corporate members, as well as policymakers, journalists, students, and interested citizens in the United States and other countries, can better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other governments.


ORDERING INFORMATION

Financial Statecraft: The Role of Financial Markets in American Foreign Policy

Authors: Benn Steil and Robert E. Litan

Price:  $38.00 / ISBN: 0-300-10975-X / Pages: 224 / Publication Date: January 31, 2006

Yale University Press / Yalebooks.com / +1-800-405-1619 / FAX: +1-800-406-9145


Contact: Lisa Shields, Communications, +1-212-434-9888, lshields@cfr.org

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