The Globalization Gamble: The Dollar-Wall
Street Regime and its Consequences.
By Peter Gowan
PART ONE: ‘CAPITAL MARKETS’, FINANCIAL SYSTEMS AND THE POST-WAR INTERNATIONAL
PART TWO: THE DOLLAR-WALL STREET REGIME
The 1990s have been the decade of globalisation. We see its effects everywhere: in economic, social and political life,
around the world. Yet the more all-pervasiveare globalisation’s effects, the more elusive is the animal itself. An
enormous outpouring of academic literature has failed to provide an agreed view of its physionomy or its location
and some reputable academics of Right and Left even question its very existence. Others, notably Anglo-American
journalists and politicians, insist it is a mighty beast which savages all who fail to respect itsneeds. They assure us
that its gaze, ‘blank and pitiless as the sun’, has turned upon the Soviet Model, the Third World Import-Substitution
Development Model, the European Social Model, the East Asian Development Model, bringing them all to their
knees. For these pundits, globalisation is the bearer of a new planetary civilisation, a single market-place, a risk
society, a world beyond thesecurity of states, an unstoppable, quasi-natural force of global transformation.
Yet, as the East Asian crisis turned into a global international financial scare, some who might be thought to be deep
inside the belly of this beast, the big operators on the ‘global financial markets’, wondered whether globalisation
might be in its death agony. At the start of 1998, Joe Quinlan, senior analyst forthe American investment bank
Morgan Stanley, raised the possibility that globalisation may be coming to an end. He noted that “globalisation has
been the decisive economic event of this decade” and stressed that “no one has reaped more benefits from
globalisation than the United States and Corporate America....The greater the velocity and mobility of global capital,
the more capital available toplug the nation’s low level of savings and boost the liquidity of financial markets. In
short, globalisation has been bullish for the world economy in general and for the United States in particular.” But
Quinlan worried that governments in various parts of the world may be turning against globalisation and may decide
to bring it to an end in 1998. As he put it: “...the biggest risks to theworld economy next year is not slower growth,
but rather an unravelling of global interdependence -- and therefore the end of globalisation.”1 For Quinlan, then,
globalisation is a rather fragile, vulnerable creature, dependent upon the nurturing care of states.
Thus, we are left with an awareness that there have indeed been powerful new forces in the international political
economy of the 1980sand 1990s, which we label globalization, but their contours, dynamics and causes remain
obscure: as elusive to our grasp as a black cat in a dark room.2
This essay is yet another attempt to catch this cat called globalization, or rather to catch one of its main organs: its
central nervous system. We will argue that this lies in the way in which international monetary and financial
relationshave been redesigned and managed over the last quarter of a century. This new monetary and financial
regime has been one of the central motors of the interlocking mechanisms of the whole dynamic known as
globalization. And it has been not in the least a spontaneous outcome of organic economic or technological
Joe Quinlan: “Devaluations, Deficits and the End of Globalisation?”, MorganStanley Global Economic
Forum, The Global Economics Team, Special Year-End Issue, 22nd December 1997 (Morgan Stanley & Co., New
I must acknowledge the source of this metaphor in an excellent joke by Professor Wagener at a recent
conference in Berlin. The joke goes as follows: economic history is chasing a black cat in a dark room; economics is
chasing a black cat in a dark room...
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