This chapter provides a general introduction to the questions and themes addressed in this book. The central issue addressed in the book is currency statecraft: what a government chooses to do – or not do – when its currency gains international appeal. Currency internationalization adds to the power of the issuing country. Contrary to conventional wisdom, however, not every government automatically chooses to make active use of its augmented capabilities. While currency power may be exploited by some countries, it may be ignored or even resisted by others. This book asks two central questions. First, what determines the strategic choices that issuers make at each stage in the life cycle of an international currency? And second, what determines the effectiveness of each government’s policy choices? Analysis highlights in particular the critical role of geopolitical ambition in shaping a country’s currency statecraft – how driven the society may be to build or sustain a prominent place in the community of nations.
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