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Handbook of the International Political Economy of Monetary Relations

Handbook of the International Political Economy of Monetary Relations

Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series

Edited by Thomas Oatley and W. Kindred Winecoff

This extensive Handbook provides an in-depth exploration of the political economy dynamics associated with the international monetary and financial systems. Leading experts offer a fresh take on research into the interaction between system structure, the self-interest of private firms, the political institutions within which governments make policy, and the ideas that influence beliefs about appropriate policy responses. Crucially they also assess how these factors have shaped the political economy of various facets of monetary and financial systems.

Chapter 12: Currency unions in the developing world

Scott Cooper

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, politics and public policy, international politics, political economy, public policy


Since the 1991 signing of Europe's Treaty on Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), scholarly attention to the topic of currency unions has mushroomed. However, frequently overlooked in this monetary revival have been the many non-European regional currencies created or attempted in the post-World War II era. Regional central banks in Africa and the Caribbean have been quietly issuing unified currencies for decades with little scholarly attention. Many other regions have created, or attempted to create, unified currencies in that time period. This chapter surveys literatures on currency unions in the developing world with a particular emphasis on causes of institution-building rather than the particular features of each individual institution. 'Currency union' refers to either shared currencies, when two or more states agree to use a common currency; or currency substitution, better known as 'dollarization,' when a state unilaterally pegs its currency to a stronger international currency or completely replaces its own currency with foreign currency. The common currency is usually a single currency issue (for example, the euro, the dollar) overseen by a single monetary institution, either a supranational institution such as the European Central Bank or a national central bank to which authority to act for the union is delegated (for example, Russia's central bank in the post-Soviet ruble zone). But some currency unions involve separately issued national currencies that are completely interchangeable but managed by separate national central banks (for example, the East African shilling).

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