from Greenberg Center for Geoeconomic Studies

Money, Markets, and Sovereignty

A fascinating intellectual history of monetary nationalism from the ancient world to the present exploring why, in its modern incarnation, it represents the single greatest threat to globalization.

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

Read an excerpt of Money, Markets, and Sovereignty.


As a global economic crisis unfolds, a new book by CFR director of international economics Benn Steil and former Salvadoran finance minister Manuel Hinds warns that the incompatibility of globalization and the international monetary system will spark new political tensions and undermine free trade.

More on:

Financial Markets

Economic Crises


Money, Markets, and Sovereignty explains that eras of greater protectionism have historically coincided with monetary nationalism, while eras of liberal trade have been accompanied by a universal monetary standard, such as the gold standard used in the late 19th century. Today, international economic relations are marked by an unprecedentedly liberal global trade regime that is operating side by side with an extreme doctrine of monetary nationalism, in which the vast majority of countries use currencies unacceptable to foreigners.

Steil and Hinds warn that this situation is bound to trigger periodic crises, and call for a revival of the political and economic thinking that distinguished earlier great periods of globalization—ideas that are increasingly under threat by more recent concepts of sovereignty. The book offers historical perspective on why currencies rise and fall, concluding that global financial security is being crippled by monetary nationalism.

A Council on Foreign Relations Book

More on:

Financial Markets

Economic Crises


Reviews and Endorsements

Winner of the 2010 Hayek Book Prize

The authors deliver an exceptionally timely warning of the catastrophic consequences of monetary nationalism, parochial sovereignty and corruptible currencies. Put Money, Markets and Sovereignty on your 2009 list of must-read books.

Globe and Mail

A well-documented defense of globalization.

Washington Times

Thoroughly researched and effectively argued ... a fine intellectual history.

International Affairs

Stimulating reading. Thoughtful and well written, bringing new perspectives.

Otmar Issing, first chief economist, European Central Bank

Money, Markets, and Sovereignty offers an unusually wide-ranging and historically informed examination of contemporary controversies over globalization, and provides a searching exploration of the tensions between money as an emblem of national sovereignty and its role as a fundamental tool of individual choice.

Jerry Z. Muller, author of The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Western Thought

This book is an important analysis of the roles of money and sovereignty in advancing globalization and its positive effects on living standards. Particularly in this era of political skepticism over gains from globalization, Steil and Hinds have written an essential text for our new leaders and those who advise them.

Glenn Hubbard, dean and Russell L. Carson professor of finance and economics, Columbia Business School

Steil and Hinds have written a revelatory historical essay on the relationship between money and the state, emphasizing that from the very origins of coinage, rulers sought to establish and exploit monopolies over currencies. This, more than anything else, helps to explain the many inflations and other monetary disruptions in history. At a time when a global financial crisis is revealing the limits of state control over the money that banks create, this is a timely and original contribution.

Niall Ferguson, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History, Harvard University, and author of The Ascent of Money

Money, Markets, and Sovereignty presents an extremely valuable and timely examination of the pros and cons of modern globalization, set against a background of illuminating historical precedents and debates.

William H. Donaldson, twenty-seventh chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission

Top Stories on CFR

West Africa

The split between ECOWAS and the mutinous AES states may be just what the regional body needed. 

Election 2024

Each Friday, I look at what the presidential contenders are saying about foreign policy. This Week: Republicans are gathering in Milwaukee next week optimistic about their chances in November.  

United Kingdom

CFR experts discuss the results of presidential elections in France and the United Kingdom, as well as what to expect from the 2024 NATO Summit in Washington, DC.