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Currency Politics:
The Political Economy of Exchange Rate Policy
Jeffry A. Frieden

Paperback | 2016 | $22.95 | £18.95 | ISBN: 9780691173849
320 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 13 line illus. 27 tables.
Hardcover | 2014 | $42.00 | £34.95 | ISBN: 9780691164151
320 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 13 line illus. 28 tables.
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Data appendix
Currency Politics page at Dataverse
McAlvany weekly commentary, Special Interests Vie For New Currency Regime

The Invisible Hand author interview Play audio.

2015 Gorlin Lecture: author Jeffry A. Frieden
The Eurozone's Currency Crisis

Author interview on
McAlvany weekly commentary podcast

The exchange rate is the most important price in any economy, since it affects all other prices. Exchange rates are set, either directly or indirectly, by government policy. Exchange rates are also central to the global economy, for they profoundly influence all international economic activity. Despite the critical role of exchange rate policy, there are few definitive explanations of why governments choose the currency policies they do. Filled with in-depth cases and examples, Currency Politics presents a comprehensive analysis of the politics surrounding exchange rates.

Identifying the motivations for currency policy preferences on the part of industries seeking to influence politicians, Jeffry Frieden shows how each industry's characteristics—including its exposure to currency risk and the price effects of exchange rate movements—determine those preferences. Frieden evaluates the accuracy of his theoretical arguments in a variety of historical and geographical settings: he looks at the politics of the gold standard, particularly in the United States, and he examines the political economy of European monetary integration. He also analyzes the politics of Latin American currency policy over the past forty years, and focuses on the daunting currency crises that have frequently debilitated Latin American nations, including Mexico, Argentina, and Brazil.

With an ambitious mix of narrative and statistical investigation, Currency Politics clarifies the political and economic determinants of exchange rate policies.

Jeffry A. Frieden is professor of Government at Harvard University and the author of many books, including Debt, Development, and Democracy (Princeton).


"The book is readable for both economists and political scientists. I recommend Currency Politics to both sets of scholars. Economists will learn about the political aspects of exchange-regime choice and political scientists about the economic aspects."--Lawrence H. Officer, EH.Net

"In Currency Politics, a quarter century of scholarly rumination has been distilled in one definitive treatment. . . . His attention to detail is remarkable, and wherever the data permit, he backs his qualitative discussion with solid quantitative analysis. . . . Readers unfamiliar with any of these episodes will find the treatment enlightening, even fascinating."--Benjamin J. Cohen, Journal of Economic Literature

"A considered and compelling case for the relevance of political economy to explaining currency policy. . . . Explains monetary economics with such clarity that it is unusually accessible. . . . Think of it as occupying the middle ground between pop economics titles, like Freakonomics, and more formidable volumes, such as Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century."--Jenny McArthur, LSE Review of Books

"Frieden undertakes careful examination of currency politics. . . . [M]eticulous [and] well-informed. . . . Recommended."--Choice


"This is international political economy as it should be. Frieden presents a sturdy framework that shows why various interest groups ought to favor strong or weak currencies, and stable or flexible exchange rates. His book's convincing applications of this framework range from sectional politics in nineteenth-century America, to today's eurozone divisions, to the vicissitudes of emerging markets."--Jeffrey Frankel, Harvard University

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Table of Contents:

Preface vii
Acknowledgments xi
Introduction The Political Economy of Currency Choice 1
Chapter 1 A Theory of Currency Policy Preferences 19
Chapter 2 The United States: From Greenbacks to Gold, 1862–79 49
Chapter 3 The United States: Silver Threats among the Gold, 1880–96 104
Chapter 4 European Monetary Integration: From Bretton Woods to the Euro and Beyond 137
Chapter 5 Latin American Currency Policy, 1970–2010 186
Chapter 6 The Political Economy of Latin American Currency Crises 220
Chapter 7 The Politics of Exchange Rates: Implications and Extensions 246
Conclusions 264
References 267
Index 283

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