“The fact that money is deeply political became especially clear after the 07/08 financial crisis
due to the means by which it was pumped into the economy, the purposes it was directed toward
and which groups benefited or were harmed by those actions.”
—Sam Van Oort 

sam van oortSam Van Oort, a Master’s student at the Institute of Political Economy, is researching the politics surrounding money; specifically, the role the U.S dollar has in the global economy, as well as possible alternatives from the vantage point of political economy. He is focusing on proposals by those who have put forth ideas that bring about a fairer and more stable international monetary system.

The U.S dollar often acts as world money in many ways resulting in huge repercussions for U.S power.

“The U.S. being on top of the hierarchy of currencies is referred to as “key currency” status, and it has long been called into question from a number of perspectives,” said Van Oort.

Van Oort had his first look into this topic when he read the book Globalization: A Systematic Marxist Account by Dr. Tony Smith, a professor he had during his undergrad degree. Through further exploration, he then took a course called The Political Economy of Money and Finance with Professor Randall Germain. Van Oort used his knowledge from this course to build on Dr. Smith’s book.

His research provides a new perspective on what is often referred to as the ‘global monetary order’, that critically examines the monetary underpinnings of proposals that hope to move beyond the ‘post-Bretton Woods,’ system and also brings the politics of money into a wider discussion.

Wikipedia explains that “Bretton Woods” refers to the international monetary arrangement agreed upon by the allied nations in 1944 in Bretton Woods, U.S., that created the IMF and World Bank and set up a system of fixed exchange rates with the U.S. dollar as the international reserve currency. The system came to end in the 1970’s, when a new international monetary system was ushered in.

“Milton Friedman liked to say: “money is much too serious a matter to be left to the central bankers,” shares Van Oort. “So many of these issues on the future of money are only talked about in very mundane IMF policy briefs, yet our social lives revolve around the pieces of paper in our wallets (or more accurately in today’s world, the digital bits in our online accounts). So I hope one of the outcomes of my research is to make the issues clearer and show why they matter.”

Dr. Laura Macdonald, former Chair of the Institute of Political Economy, and Dr. Roy Culpeper, a Senior Fellow in the University of Ottawa’s International Development and Global Studies department, have been supervising Van Oort throughout his research.

“They have both been incredibly helpful to me,” emphasized Van Oort. “One point in particular to mention is their assistance in constructing a guided reading course which has allowed me to use a semester to focus on my research question and draft some chapters for my final work. I feel lucky to have their support and guidance, particularly for the fact that Roy is likely the only supervisor within many miles who would describe a research paper on this sometimes obscure topic as ‘exciting’!”

Van Oort hopes to get his research published as well as use the knowledge he as gained to find work dealing with the financial system.

–The above story was written by Taia Goguen-Garner.

Monday, January 6, 2020 in ,
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