World Financial Orders: An Historical International Political Economy, by Paul Langley. RIPE Series in Global Political Economy. London: Routledge. 2002. ISBN: 0415255740, $90.00. 192 pages.
Paul Langley's World Financial Orders: An Historical International Political Economy addresses the complex historical context in which the United States as well as other financial systems developed. Langley calls his view "an alternative to the prevailing neo-liberal mode of knowledge of the contemporary restructuring of world finance" (p. 156). In part 1 of his text, Langley introduces his unique perspective of world finance, exploring first the idea that international political economy can and must be considered in its historical context and then introducing a formal model. In part 2, the development of the Dutch, British, and American financial orders are discussed, demonstrating the interconnected development of national systems. The contemporary world financial order is analyzed in part 3. In the final chapters, Langley places the role of governance in perspective in this new historical approach to international political economy.
Langley argues that "an Historical IPE is guided by structured social practices, social change, social space, social time and social orders as the principal categories along which inquiry is pursued" (p. 25). He then assumes that world credit practices are the most fundamental social practice affecting world financial centers, the key social order. The creation and "unraveling" of WFCs determines the order of the world financial climate, and therefore world governance plays an important role in determining social order.
Paul Langley also illustrates the interdependent rise and subsequent fall of each world financial order in its historical and political context. Part 2 of Langley's text begins with an inquiry into the origins of modern financial systems starting with the Dutch world financial order of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The concentration of this financial center was in Amsterdam largely because of the relative wealth and power that dictated financial flows. Langley then moves to the development of the British financial order, centered in London, which, according to Langley, was the result of the deteriorating Dutch order. He further argues that the emergence of the American financial order amid the Great Depression was the result of the continued changing...