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The Hidden Hand of American Hegemony: Scenes from Private Tombs in New Kingdom Thebes: Petrodollar Recycling and International Markets (Cornell Studies in Political Economy) Hardcover – 26 Jun 2014

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 194 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press (26 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080142884X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801428845
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 1.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,465,093 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

"Conventional wisdom has it that markets-and markets alone-recycled the huge OPEC surplus in the mid-1970s. David E. Spiro successfully refutes this argument and demonstrates that the United States played the key role in overcoming the threat to the world economy posed by OPEC. Of equal importance, Spiro's analysis also undermines the argument of those enthusiasts who believe that markets alone now rule the world."-Robert Gilpin, Princeton University

"Conventional wisdom has it that markets and markets alone recycled the huge OPEC surplus in the mid-1970s. David E. Spiro successfully refutes this argument and demonstrates that the United States played the key role in overcoming the threat to the world economy posed by OPEC. Of equal importance, Spiro's analysis also undermines the argument of those enthusiasts who believe that markets alone now rule the world." Robert Gilpin, Princeton University"

"The book provides a good panorama of the global situation after OPEC increased the price of oil in the early 1970s. No previous knowledge of the issue is required, as it is very well explained and the book is well organized. In addition it looks not only at the protagonist countries, the USA and Saudi Arabia, but also includes all the surrounding political actors, and the role they played regarding their own interests."--Gabriela Cano, Journal of Energy Literature

"This study . . . makes a significant contribution to the literature of international political economy. The book also is a useful point of departure for further exploration by historians of finance, economics, and business. The data on capital flows alone constitute a valuable resource for all analysts. . . . The book is closely argued within the author's established methodological framework. It engages the reader in lively argument."--Michael R. Adamson, Business History Review

"With this book, David Spiro delivers a knockout punch to those who assert that the recycling of petrodollars was market driven. Instead, he demonstrates the essential role of American power in that process and, by extension, in the operation and design of the international financial system. All future discussions of 'globalization' will have to take account of Spiro's work."--Ethan B. Kapstein, Stassen Professor of International Peace, Humphrey Institute, University of Minnesota

"This lively and well-written book combines the best of IR theory, careful empirical research, and muckraking."--James A. Caporaso, University of Washington

"Conventional wisdom has it that markets--and markets alone--recycled the huge OPEC surplus in the mid-1970s. David E. Spiro successfully refutes this argument and demonstrates that the United States played the key role in overcoming the threat to the world economy posed by OPEC. Of equal importance, Spiro's analysis also undermines the argument of those enthusiasts who believe that markets alone now rule the world."--Robert Gilpin, Princeton University

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Format: Hardcover
According to Mr. Spiro, the US engineered a brilliant response to the oil crisis of the 1970s.

It goes like this. Through stick and carrot the US gets an agreement from OPEC only to accept US dollars in exchange for oil. This means that the US can print dollars to pay for price increases in oil. Industrialised countries without oil, such as Japan, have to export to the US in order to obtain dollars to exchange for Opec oil; for example, cars in the case of Japan. So America gets oil and services and goods (eg cars) in exchange for pieces of paper. Not only that but Opec's excess dollars were then reinvested in the US and other industrialised countries, thus funding the US budget deficit and reducing US interest rates.

I had read this elsewhere and could not quite believe it is true. However Mr Spiro's book is very scholarly and carefully written, so this makes me think the above theory is true.

Mr Spiro's book is mainly about the second half of the process--the "recycling" of OPEC's excess dollars. He shows that contrary to conventional wisdom most of the excess dollars were "recycled" to industrialised countries rather than less developed countries. In the process of acquiring excess dollars the US reneged on agreements with the IMF.

Much of Mr Spiro's book is concerned as to whether the above history corresponds with various theoretical economic models. I found this of some interest but it might be too heavy going for some people.

Mr Spiro concludes that traditional economic theories fail to take account of the fact that nation states use violence and the threat of violence to "distort markets."

Altogether very interesting and worthwhile, though the writing style might be too academic for some people.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking Academic Work 27 May 2009
By J Gwinn - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
David Spiro's work is a must read for anyone wishing to understand the dynamics/politics/history of chronic US balance of payment deficits. Spiro's work focuses on the period after Nixon decoupled the dollar from gold leading up to the supposed OPEC induced "energy crisis"

In short, partly with the use of declassified primary documents and interviews with key US Treasury Players, Spiro exposes how the US government violated agreements with allies while secretly striking deals with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority to recycle petrodollars in order to purchase US Treasuries. A high percentage of recycling satisfied the appetite of US government deficits, with the remainder recycled by multinational banks to developing countries. Conventional accounts argue petrodollars were recycled to developing countries which needed credit. Spiro, through emperical evidence proves otherwise... A significant portion of the countries were also oil exporting countries which benefited from the oil price increases e.g., Mexico; the emerging nations were considered good credit risks. With respect to the advanced economies, a very important point is the fact oil was linked to the dollar. This forced US allies to hold dollars or sink into US Treasuries.

The only problem I had with Spiro's work... his writing style. Spiro's work was funded by the Cornell University studies in Political Economy... so was not intended for a broad audience / uses poli sci academic speak.

Spiro's research is grossly underpublicized. Especially as we see U.S terms of trade deficits increasing. I highly recommend this book.
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