Exorbitant Privilege with Barry Eichengreen

World Policy Institute presents:

Exorbitant Privilege
The Rise and Fall of the Dollar and the Future of the International Monetary System

A Book Discussion and Luncheon with
Barry Eichengreen
Moderated by WPI President Michele Wucker
January 12, 2011, at Demos

For more than half a century, the U.S. dollar has been not just America's currency, but the world's. Nearly three-quarters of all hundred-dollar bills circulate outside of the United States. The dollar holdings of the Chinese government alone come to more than $1,000 per Chinese resident. This dependence on dollars –by banks, corporations and governments around the world–is a source of strength for the United States. One critic of U.S. policies has called the leeway that the dollar affords America its "exorbitant privilege."

In the face of high unemployment, record federal deficits, and the larger fallout from the financial crisis and Great Recession, will this soon be a privilege lost? With the advent of the euro and China's renminbi, some say that the dollar may soon cease to be the world's standard currency. In Exorbitant Privilege, economist Barry Eichengreen counters this argument, challenging the presumption that there is room for only one true global currency. He traces the rise of the dollar to international prominence over the course of the 20th century, illustrating how the greenback dominated internationally in the second half of the century for the same reasons, and in the same way, that the US dominated the global economy. Analyzing the changes that lie ahead, Eichengreen warns that the dollar will only lose its preeminent status in international currency if the U.S repeats the mistakes that led to the financial crisis, and fails to put its fiscal house in order. Exorbitant Privilege emerges as a challenge to those who warn that the dollar is doomed as well as to those who regard its continuing dominance as inevitable.

About the Author:

Barry Eichengreen is Professor of Political Science and Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. His previous books include The European Economy Since 1945, Global Imbalances and the Lessons of Bretton Woods, Capital Flows and Crises, and Financial Crises and What to Do About Them. He has written for the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Foreign Affairs, and other publications.


Michele Wucker is President of the World Policy Institute and is the author of LOCKOUT: Why America Keeps Getting Immigration Wrong When Our Prosperity Depends on Getting It Right, and Why The Cocks Fight: Dominicans, Haitians and the Struggle For Hispaniola. She is a 2009 Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum and a member of the 2009-10 American Council on Germany Young Leaders Study Group on the Future of Europe.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011
12:15 to 1:45 pm
Lunch will be served beginning at 12:15, and the discussion will start at 12:30.


220 Fifth Avenue (between 26th and 27th streets)
5th Floor conference room


  • Free for WPI Members
  • Regular admission: $15, or $25 for lunch and a copy of Exorbitant Privilege
  • Nonprofit professionals, academics and student admission: $10, or $20 for lunch and a copy of Exorbitant Privilege


  • WPI Members: register by emailing events@worldpolicy.org, or by calling (212) 481-5005, Option 2.
  • Non-members: register and pay online here:

Exorbitant Privilege Luncheon – Jan. 12

Or by sending a check to:  WPI, 220 Fifth Ave., 9th Fl. NY, NY 10001

Book Sales:

Exhorbitant Privilege will be available for purchase on the day of the event: $15 for WPI Members, $20 for non-members (list price $27.95).

If you are unable to attend the lunch but would like to purchase a signed copy of Exorbitant Privilege, please select the "book only" option in the Paypal menu above, and send an email to events@worldpolicy.org indicating how you'd like the book inscribed and the address you'd like it sent to.

Advance payment and registration are required. Call the World Policy Institute Events line at 212.481.5005, Option 2, with any event-related questions.

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