Barry Eichengreen: The Rise and Fall of the Dollar

Conversations with History - Barry Eichengreen

Barry Eichengreen, Pardee Professor of Economics and History University of California, Berkeley


Conversations host Harry Kreisler welcomes Berkeley economic historian Barry Eichengreen for a discussion of his new book, Exorbitant Privilege. Outlining the history of the dollar's role in the international monetary system, Eichengreen begins with the function and characteristics of a reserve currency.  The conversation then moves to an analysis of the institutional prerequisites for the rise of the dollar as an international currency.  After describing the dollar's rise and sterling's fall, Eichengreen focuses on the factors that accounted for the dollar's preeminence after World War II.  Throughout the conversation, he touches on the personalities who forged America's dominant role. He then chronicles the slow erosion of the dollar as other centers of economic power emerged. The discussion moves on to examine the causes and consequences of the 2008 economic collapse. In light of the fiscal crisis confronting the United States today, Eichengreen speculates on the future of the dollar and on the challenges posed by  the euro and the yuan. He concludes with reflections on the role of history in explicating policy choices.

KEYWORDS: International Monetary System, Financial System, Political Economy, World Econonomy. 

Publication date: 
January 3, 2011
Publication type: 
Conversations with History