The Euro: The Politics of the New Global Currency

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The Euro: The Politics of the New Global Currency
By David Marsh
Yale University Press, 2009
352 pp. $35.00
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For those who find international monetary policy a snooze, Marsh -- a former Financial Times correspondent, now an investment banker -- is the man to liven it up. The result is the most readable overview available of European monetary cooperation, from Bretton Woods to today's European Central Bank. Yet Marsh's tendency to focus on individuals and their stories, even when backed by admirable forays into the archives, sometimes misses the forest for the trees. Too little attention is paid to the deep structural forces and profound economic illusions that drew Europeans together. Marsh revives, for example, the tired view that Germany surrendered the deutsche mark only when, in 1990, French President François Mitterrand threatened to block German reunification. In fact, Marsh's own evidence suggests that European leaders, including German ones, wanted to stabilize trade, reform domestic labor markets, and ward off the effects of dollar instability. Pity it has not always worked out that way.