Past eventResearch Event

How Global Currencies Work: Past, Present and Future

27 October 2017 - 8:30am to 9:30am

Chatham House, London


Barry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee, Professor of Economics and Political Science, the University of California, Berkeley



At first glance, the modern history of the global economic system seems to support the long-held view that the leading world currencies—the British pound, the US dollar and perhaps someday the Chinese yuan—invariably dominates international trade and finance. In the book, How Global Currencies Work, three noted economists provide a reassessment of this history and the theories behind the conventional wisdom.

Offering a new history of global finance over the past two centuries, and marshaling extensive new data to test established theories of how global currencies work, the book argues for a new view, in which several national monies can share international currency status, and their importance can change rapidly.

At this event, writer Barry Eichengreen will demonstrate how changes in technology and in the structure of international trade and finance have reshaped the landscape of international currencies so that several international financial standards can coexist. He will show how multiple international and reserve currencies have in fact coexisted in the past, upending the traditional view of the British pound’s dominance prior to 1945 and the US dollar’s dominance more recently.

Barry Eichengreen is the George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Hall of Mirrors, Exorbitant Privilege, Globalizing Capital, and The European Economy since 1945.