The author has probably read most of Rueff's technical works. This makes for a competent description of Rueff's economic thought in its own right. But one would hardly read Rueff for his monetarist thoughts nowadays - his contributions are no longer original, if they ever were. One would read him for his political economy - his ability to read the country's needs and suggest a way forward. The author has only a limited understanding of the history of modern France, however, or he would not equate De Gaulle and Pétain as "conservative leaders" (pg. 88). His grasp of European integration is also limited, proof the tangential way he treats this subject (for a better take see the first part of The Breaking of Nations: Order and Chaos in the Twenty-First Century). The intellectual biography, as competent as it is on such limited merits, fails to explain why Rueff in the end failed on many fronts.
A product of the French elite system, Rueff took the orthodox view that "to exist an entity must display some enduring orderliness" (pg. 180). He thought that monetary stability would provide such order, and his whole life he fought to secure it. The markets and democracy, he thought, depended on it. Inflation he viewed as the source of all evils, as well as structural rigidities - by which he meant mainly rigidities in the labour markets (unions, the dole).
Alas, a typical elite product, Rueff never left Paris to understand the workings of the real French economy. Had he done so, rather than study statistical aggregates, and compared his findings with the situation in other countries, he would have understood that the French industrial structures were hopelessly out of date and that the entrepreneurial spirit was sorely lacking. Rigidities there were, but they were nestled in paternalistic, hexagonal and pantoufflard management and an obtuse rentier class just as much as in labour unions - or maybe put another way: they deserved each other. Britain was no better, by the way (see: The Audit of War: The Illusion and Reality of Britain As a Great Nation) - as Keynes knew. The "planners" whom Rueff (and the author) berates were people in a hurry. They could not wait for an entrepreneurial spirit to appear, and tried to force-feed modernisation. Had Rueff better understood the French industrial reality, he would have been more tolerant of the dirigisme of his fellow polytechniciens.
Rueff felt the need for order deeply - but which order? He soon understood - and this differentiates him from libertarian economists à la Hayek - that the distribution of property rights was a historical accident and could in no way make any claim to being `just', i.e. socially legitimate. Given furthermore the tendency of market systems to concentrate wealth in fewer hands (the Gini coefficient of China and the US have grown similar nowadays) he might have worried that the unfettered working of the market system would undermine democracy in no less surreptitious ways than inflation. (And, I'm sure, he would have been horrified by the unbridled corruption that has followed market liberalisation in countries like France.) This put him close to the ordo-liberals like Röpke and their soziale Marktwirtschaft. To label him "monetary conservative" would seem unjust to me.
Rueff's quest for understanding the emergence of order also led him into novel areas - the "Promethean foundation of the market order", which is the subject of his last major work. Far ahead of his time, Rueff was nibbling here at emerging complex systems. Regretfully Mr. Chivvis seems to be ignorant of the extensive economic literature that has since emerged in this area and would have put Rueff's thought in a clearer context.
At the end Mr. Chivvis seems to want to pass judgement on the ideas of Mr. Rueff. This is a hopeless undertaking, given the extent of contingency that accompanies any economic policy. If there I were to draw a lesson from Mr. Rueff's experience is the need to understand reality and its complexity, rather than search for the mythical 'order' on which to base economic policy.