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Working Paper

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B31 - History of Economic Thought: Individuals, F02 - International Economic Order, N14 - Economic History: Macroeconomics; Growth and Fluctuations: Europe: 1913-


The most notable idea of Charles P. Kindleberger’s later career is the value of a single country acting as stabilizer of an international economy prone to instability. It runs through his widely read books, The World in Depression, 1929-1939 (1973), Manias, Crises, and Panics (1978), A Financial History of Western Europe (1984), and kindred works. “Hegemonic stability,” the idea is called in the literature it inspired. This essay traces Kindleberger’s attachment to the idea back to his tenure as chief of the State Department’s Division of German and Austrian Economic Affairs from 1945 to 1947 and adviser to the European Recovery Program from 1947 to 1948. In both capacities Kindleberger observed and participated indirectly in the 1948 monetary reform in Western Germany. In the 1990s, during his octogenary decade, he revisited the German monetary reform with a fellow participant, economist, and longtime friend, F. Taylor Ostrander. Their collaborative essay marked Kindleberger’s effort to reclaim hegemonic stability theory from the scholars who developed it following his works of the 1970s and 1980s.