The Cost of Free Money How Unfettered Capital Threatens Our Economic Future Paola Subacchi

Publication date:
14 Jul 2020
Yale University Press
320 pages: 235 x 156mm
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A penetrating account of how unchecked capital mobility is damaging international cooperation, polarizing the economic landscape, and ultimately reshaping the global order

"An expert on global financial and monetary systems . . . lucidly describes the failings of the international monetary 'non-system' that emerged after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s."—Martin Wolf, Financial Times "Best Books of 2020: Economics"

When it comes to the afflictions of the global economy, almost everyone—and especially Donald Trump—is quick to point the finger of blame at the state of international trade. But what about unconstrained capital flows? Unfettered capital has resulted in a string of financial and economic crises that have left our political systems strained and dialogue corroded. The once perceived benefits of openness have been cast to the wayside and the cracks in the global order can no longer be ignored.
Paola Subacchi argues that international cooperation and interdependence have become crippled. Regional restrictions will soon strengthen and a multipolar order will take shape, leading to a distinctly transformed economic landscape in which China challenges the dominance of the US dollar. Combining history, analysis, and prediction, this book provides penetrating insight into the challenges facing the international economic order.

Paola Subacchi is an economist and writer. She is professor of international economics and chair of the advisory board of the Global Policy Institute at Queen Mary University of London. Subacchi is the author of The People’s Money. She lives in London.

"Subacchi is an expert on global financial and monetary systems. In this book, she lucidly describes the failings of the international monetary “non-system” that emerged after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system in the 1970s."—Martin Wolf, Financial Times ‘Best Books of 2020: Economics’

"With so much uncertainty surrounding the new lay of the economic land, and the behaviour of those with key roles in shaping it, this book offers some well-presented solutions, formulated with fairer outcomes firmly in mind."—Emma Newlands, Scotland on Sunday


“Just as we are getting used to the existence of  ‘magic money trees’ which have helped finance the massive  stimulus packages we have seen during the comes this excellent book to remind us that there is no such thing as free money [and] exposes the perils lying ahead  of not getting to grips with the change in the world order.”—Vicky Pryce, 'Reading Room' for The Society of Professional Economists 

“People interested in global economic policy matters will find this a thought-provoking book.” – Arslan Razmi, Journal of Economics

‘This highly readable analysis warns of the dangers of unchecked capital flows and weak global cooperation, and persuasively makes the case for the revival of a rules-based international economy. With nationalism on the rise, this is a vital account of the history and likely evolution of the international financial system.’—Niall Kishtainy, author of A Little History of Economics

'This book focuses on three tensions: those between the dominance of the dollar and an increasingly multipolar world economy; between free capital flows and financial stability; and that between the US and China. Subacchi highlights that there are no easy ways of relieving these tensions. She may not leave readers confident about our collective international monetary prospects, but it will certainly provoke thought.’—Barry Eichengreen, author of Hall of Mirrors

‘Using her deep knowledge of the international economy and China, Subacchi eloquently and insightfully explains the increasing pressure on the international monetary system. It is to be fervently hoped that after the latest global shock, policymakers will follow Subacchi’s advice to reform and reenergize.’—Tamim Bayoumi, author of Unfinished Business