The UN and Global Political Economy

The UN and Global Political Economy

Trade, Finance, and Development
John Toye and Richard Toye
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 07/09/2004
Format: Paperback 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21686-1
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Against the backdrop of a 20-year revolt against free trade orthodoxy by economists inside the UN and their impact on policy discussions since the 1960s, the authors show how the UN both nurtured and inhibited creative and novel intellectual contributions to the trade and development debate. Presenting a stirring account of the main UN actors in this debate, The UN and Global Political Economy focuses on the accomplishments and struggles of UN economists and the role played by such UN agencies as the Department of Economic (and Social) Affairs, the United Nations Commission on Trade and Development, and the Economic Commission for Latin America (and the Caribbean). It also looks closely at the effects of the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s, the growing strength of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in the 1990s, and the lessons to be drawn from these and other recent developments.

Author Bio

John Toye is a political economist who has directed research on economic development at the Universities of Wales, Sussex, and Oxford. He has also worked as a British civil servant, as the director of a private consultancy company, and as a director of the United Nations Committee on Trade and Development. His previous books include Dilemmas of Development (2nd ed., 1993) and Keynes on Population (2000) and he has published numerous academic articles.

Richard Toye is lecturer in history at Homerton College, Cambridge. He is the author of The Labour Party and the Planned Economy, 1931<N>1951 (2003) and co-author, with Jamie Miller, of Cripps versus Clayton (forthcoming).


“A dramatic account of the UN's struggle over how best to understand severe inequities in the global economy. The authors show how the UN both nurtured and inhibited creative and novel intellectual contributions to the trade and development debate, looking closely at the role played by UN economists and the agencies in which they worked.”

“John Toye (British political economist) and Richard Toye (history, Cambridge Univ., UK), a father-son team, examine, as part of the United Nations Intellectual History Project, contributions to development economics by the UN and its specialized agencies. They acknowledge that, despite high aspirations by some for the UN to be the principal international organization to promote economic development, its status in the field of finance, development, and trade became ancillary to that of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, which operate independently within the UN framework. The authors explain why the UN became marginal (inter alia, the Cold War, excessive demands by Third World countries, the Latin American debt crisis, and financial resources of the IMF and World Bank). The research output of a number of prominent economists in the UN's employ, however, left a lasting legacy to the trade and development debate. The substance of the research produced by these economists (e.g., Michal Kalecki, Nicholas Kaldor) during their UN service, and the historical, political, and bureaucratic setting in which the research was performed, is clearly and informatively summarized. Of special interest to students of economic development and trade policy and policy makers in these areas. Summing Up: Recommended. Public, academic, and professional library collections.”
 — C. J. Siegman, formerly, Federal Reserve Board/International Monetary Fund , 2004dec CHOICE

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Louis Emmerij, Richard Jolly, and Thomas G. Weiss
List of Abbreviations
1. The UN Trade and Development Debates of the 1940s
2. The UN Recruits Economists
3. Michal Kalecki, the World Economic Report, and McCarthyism
4. From Full Employment to Economic Development
5. The Early Terms-of-Trade Controversy
6. ECLA, Industrialization, and Inflation
7. Competitive Coexistence and the Politics of Modernization
8. The Birth of UNCTAD
9. UNCTAD under Raúl Prebisch: Success or Failure?
10. World Monetary Problems and the Challenge of Commodities
11. The Conservative Counterrevolution of the 1980s
12. What Lessons for the Future?
Appendix: List of Archival Sources
About the Authors
About the UN Intellectual History Project