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Books in brief

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.
Published Date:
January 1990
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Richard O’Brien and Ingrid Iversen (editors)

Finance and the International Economy: 3

The AMEX Bank Review Prize Essays

Oxford University Press, New York, NY, USA, 1990, vi + 200 pp., $30.

These days it is hard to find much pathbreaking economic writing in books. The AMEX Bank Review Awards have become one of the best sources of original and important essays on current economic topics. This collection of the 11 prizewinning essays for 1989 is no exception. Three areas of interest are covered: payments imbalances between industrial countries; capital flows and the developing world; and the reform of markets in China and the Soviet Union. Brevity and clarity continue to be the hallmark of the AMEX essays. First prize went to John Makin for his study of the role of exchange rates in international imbalances, while Giorgio Gomel’s analysis of the US external debt and systemic implications for the dollar received second prize. William Cline’s essay on the management of international debt from the Baker to the Brady Plan took third place. Recommended reading for busy economists and executives.

David T. Llewellyn (editor)

Reflections on Money

St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY, USA, 1990, xi + 190pp., $55.

In his introduction, the editor of this collection of eight essays emphasizes that the recent development of monetary theory and policy has taken place in an environment of far-reaching change in financial systems. Most contributors develop this theme. In particular, Charles Goodhart considers how the set of monetary assets has changed over time and its implications for the effectiveness of monetary policy, and the editor himself takes a close look at structural change in the financial system of the United Kingdom. Others look at a range of related issues, including the practical problems faced by companies as the international monetary system has changed, and inflation-related accountancy problems. The strength of this book is in the contributions, which concentrate on putting monetary policy issues squarely in the context of a changing environment, although they are narrowly focused on the UK experience. But while selective dipping provides the reader with some useful insights, the beginner will not find an orderly introduction to monetary policy issues and the initiated will find little of substance to provoke new thinking.

Sylvia Ostry

Governments and Corporations in a Shrinking World

Trade and Innovation Policies in the United States, Europe, and Japan

Council on Foreign Relations Press, New York, NY, USA, 1990, xiv + 182 pp., $14.95.

This is a provocative and timely survey of the emerging international economic order. Its focus is on the differences between the corporate-government interface in policymaking within the triad: the United States, Europe, and Japan. The argument is clearly written and designed to appeal to a wide readership—economists working in government and industry, as well as trade specialists with an interest in political economy. The basic premise of the book is that the main international public good of the multilateral trading system is stability. Examples are drawn from the Uruguay Round and recent developments in innovation policies to illustrate the global effects of divergences in the political economy of trade policies in the three countries. The main value of the book is to enlarge the traditional view of trade policy to encompass trade in property and intellectual rights and interactions between governments and global corporations. However, the bottom line—that convergence in the political economy of trade policies will increase world stability (and implicitly, welfare)—is less convincing. As illustrated by the literature on policy coordination, once interactions between domestic players, as well as between domestic and foreign governments are taken into account, policy coordination (which may involve divergent or convergent policies) need not increase global welfare.

Sheila Page

Trade, Finance, and Developing Countries

Strategies and Constraints in the 1990s

Barnes & Noble Books, Savage, MD, USA, 1990, xi + 443 pp., $46.

The remarkable economic performance of the NICs (newly industrializing countries), underpinned by successful exporting of manufactures, is often regarded by economists, policymakers, and international organizations as a model for other developing countries. This book reappraises the NICs’ experience and examines other developing countries that have the potential to be the next generation of NICs. A major conclusion is that successful exporting requires an active response to external demand by finding new potential for exports, changing industrial structure to meet it, and repeating this process continuously. Thus, public policy should encourage the emergence of exporters, rather than simply exports. The volume draws on the experiences of eight NICs, and 13 other developing countries (which, together, account for 85 percent of manufactured exports by all developing countries), assesses the essential characteristics and problems of external exposure, and investigates the role of the external sector in development.

Zuhayr Mikdashi (editor)

Banques, Autorités Publiques et Maitrise des Risques

Economica, Paris, France, 1990, xiii + 228 pp., FF 150.

This book is a pioneering effort at considering banking as an activity of risk management. The 17 papers in this volume, originally presented at a conference in Switzerland, have been written by professional bankers and policymakers. They provide insightful analysis of bank management and interesting discussions about the role of official bank supervision. The authors describe their experience with various systemic risks affecting banks, such as the LDC debt crisis, Europe 1992, the emerging supremacy of Japanese banking, the role of deposit insurance schemes, the US savings and loans collapse, and the volatility of stock markets. These various articles lead nicely to an overall conclusion on the present types of banking risks and steps to reduce banks’ vulnerability. The book focuses convincingly on the responsibility of bank managements and executive boards in avoiding risk-taking positions, but little is said on market hedging instruments. Readers will find, however, the book particularly helpful as a concise and convincing introduction to the hazardous world of banking activities.

Robert J. Berg and David F. Gordon (editors)

Cooperation for International Development

The United States and the Third World in the 1990s

Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, CO, USA, 1989, ix + 356 pp., $38.50 (paper $25.95).

The past few years have seen a remarkable rebirth of serious thought and debate about international development cooperation and the policies designed to meet the evolving needs of the developing countries. The contributing authors explore three broad themes: the international context in which development activities will occur in the 1990s; US interests in the Third World and the scope of US institutions (public and private) for involvement in international development; and issues involved in the organization and implementation of US policies and programs for international development cooperation. The consensus that emerges is that a development program should concentrate on achieving broad-based economic growth, alleviating poverty, and preventing environmental degradation, all of which would require changes in the US economic, trade, and foreign policies.

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