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The Decline of Sterling
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  • Cited by 36
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Eichengreen, Barry 2018. Handbook of the History of Money and Currency. p. 1.

    Kugler, Peter and Straumann, Tobias 2018. Handbook of the History of Money and Currency. p. 1.

    Monnet, Eric 2018. Controlling Credit.

    Tennent, Kevin D. 2018. Guest editorial. Journal of Management History, Vol. 24, Issue. 2, p. 122.

    Stockwell, Sarah 2018. Imperial Liberalism and Institution Building at the End of Empire in Africa. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 46, Issue. 5, p. 1009.

    Schenk, Catherine 2018. Handbook of the History of Money and Currency. p. 1.

    SCOTT, PETER M. and WALKER, JAMES T. 2018. ‘Stop-go’ policy and the restriction of postwar British house-building. The Economic History Review,

    Selva, Simone 2017. Before the Neoliberal Turn. p. 91.

    Wei, Li 2017. Partners, Institutions and International Currencies: The International Political Foundations for the Rise of the Renminbi. Social Sciences in China, Vol. 38, Issue. 2, p. 114.

    Scott, Peter M. and Walker, James T. 2017. The impact of ‘stop-go’ demand management policy on Britain's consumer durables industries, 1952-65. The Economic History Review, Vol. 70, Issue. 4, p. 1321.

    Nyamunda, Tinashe 2017. Money, Banking and Rhodesia’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 45, Issue. 5, p. 746.

    James, Harold and Lombardi, Domenico 2017. The political economy of global reserve assets. International Finance, Vol. 20, Issue. 3, p. 243.

    Eichengreen, Barry Chiţu, Livia and Mehl, Arnaud 2016. Stability or Upheaval? The Currency Composition of International Reserves in the Long Run. IMF Economic Review, Vol. 64, Issue. 2, p. 354.

    Schaufelbuehl, Janick Marina 2016. The transatlantic business community faced with US direct investment in Western Europe, 1958–1968. Business History, Vol. 58, Issue. 6, p. 880.

    Smith, Simon C. 2016. Britain's Decision to Withdraw from the Persian Gulf: A Pattern Not a Puzzle. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 44, Issue. 2, p. 328.

    Stockwell, Sarah 2015. The Ends of European Colonial Empires. p. 148.

    McCauley, Robert N. and Schenk, Catherine R. 2015. Reforming the International Monetary System in the 1970s and 2000s: Would a Special Drawing Right Substitution Account Have Worked?. International Finance, Vol. 18, Issue. 2, p. 187.

    Gill, David James 2015. Rating the UK: the British government's sovereign credit ratings, 1976-8. The Economic History Review, Vol. 68, Issue. 3, p. 1016.

    Hirowatari, Kiyoshi 2015. Britain and European Monetary Cooperation, 1964–1979. p. 1.

    Singleton, John and Schenk, Catherine R. 2015. The shift from sterling to the dollar, 1965-76: evidence from Australia and New Zealand. The Economic History Review, Vol. 68, Issue. 4, p. 1154.


Book description

The demise of sterling as an international currency was widely predicted after 1945, but the process took thirty years to complete. Why was this demise so prolonged? Traditional explanations emphasize British efforts to prolong sterling's role because it increased the capacity to borrow, enhanced prestige, or supported London as a centre for international finance. This book challenges this view by arguing that sterling's international role was prolonged by the weakness of the international monetary system and by collective global interest in its continuation. Using the archives of Britain's partners in Europe, the USA and the Commonwealth, Catherine Schenk shows how the UK was able to convince other governments that sterling's international role was critical for the stability of the international economy and thereby attract considerable support to manage its retreat. This revised view has important implications for current debates over the future of the US dollar as an international currency.


‘Catherine Schenk tells the story of the changing fortunes of sterling across the second half of the twentieth century. This ranges over everything from convertibility, reserve currencies, sterling balances, the euro-currency markets, the international financial architecture, and a great deal more. Sterling has also been placed in the context of the international monetary system, and in the context of the growing literature on the economic and wider history of the period. It is an excellent account of difficult territory.’

Forrest Capie - Cass Business School and Official Historian of the Bank of England

‘Anyone concerned about how to resolve the global imbalances in the international economy today needs to read Catherine Schenk’s detailed study of the political and economic difficulties that bedevilled Britain’s decades-long effort to eliminate the 'sterling problem' left over from World War II. Her detailed analysis of the issues that confronted British policymakers and how they were resolved shows how hard it is to correct global imbalances once they exist, even with the best of intentions and international cooperation. For, even if the stakes diminish over time, as they did with British sterling, the stake holders and their interests keep changing as well.’

Larry Neal - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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