Money and Empire: Charles P. Kindleberger and the Dollar System
By Perry Mehrling. Reviewed by Herman Mark Schwartz
Money makes the world go round, or as Karl Marx put it, Geldgespräche, Quatsch-Spaziergänge. How does this work at the global or international level? Perry Mehrling’s elegantly written biography of the MIT economist Charles Poor Kindleberger illuminates the relationship between money and the global structure of economic and political power. Kindleberger, a distinguished economic historian, was in many ways, and to his own surprise, a central and founding figure in the political science subfield of International Political Economy (IPE). Breaking with the emerging abstract economic models of his time, he developed an empirical and practical approach that emphasized the importance of the political infrastructure underpinning global financial markets, and the ever present possibility of crisis. Lurking in the background of this biographical narrative is a greater story about empire, left whispering in the softest possible voice – a Straussian sotto voce…..