The Economic Government of the World

The Economic Government of the World



This is the history of the institutions and individuals who have managed the global economy, from the World Monetary and Economic Conference in the wake of the Great Depression to the present, as leading nations tackle the fallout from Covid-19 and the threats of inflation, food security and climate change. Since the Second World War, organisations created at Bretton Woods - the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development - and afterwards - the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - have left an indelible mark on our contemporary world.

Martin Daunton examines the swings of the pendulum over ninety years between the forces of democracy, national determination and globalization. He shows that the structures of economic government have been overwhelmingly shaped by 'first world' powers, often to the dismay of developing countries. He argues that whilst structures cannot be separated from the politics of and between the biggest economies, future global recovery rests on the reduction of inequality and that multilateral institutions are fundamental in fostering inclusive growth.


  • The Economic Government of the World is a tour de force. It lets us see the evolving architecture of global economic governance over the last hundred years - the various architects and the designs they favoured, the scaffolding going up (and down), the technicians responsible for fitting out the floors, and the cracks emerging in the walls and foundations. Both in terms of chronological scope and thematic range, I know of no book like it. It is a hugely ambitious and timely work.
    Frank Trentmann, author of EMPIRE OF THINGS

About the author

Martin Daunton

Martin Daunton is Emeritus Professor of Economic History at the University of Cambridge where he was Master of Trinity Hall and on two occasions head of the School of the Humanities and Social Sciences. He has been President of the Royal Historical Society, a Commissioner of Historic England, a trustee of the National Maritime Museum and Chair of the Leverhulme Trust Research Awards Committee. He has held visiting professorships in Japan and Australia and is a visiting professor at Gresham College.
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