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What Theory? The theory in Mad Money

Susan Strange

CSGR Working Paper No. 18/98

December 1998




Mad Money (Manchester University Press, 1998) is the completely rewritten and updated version of Casino Capitalism (Blackwells, 1986). It has been suggested--of both volumes--that there was no theory underlying Strange's discussion of the international financial system in them. This, she argues in this Working Paper, is emphatically not the case. Both volumes always implicitly, and often explicitly, are underpinned by the dominant themes that are reflected in Strange's work since the publication of 'International Relations and International Economics: A Case of Mutual Neglect', International Affairs, 46 (2) 1970. These themes are threefold: Firstly a need to privilege the politics of the international financial system in the study of international relations; a discipline too long myopic in its focus on violent conflict and war between states at the expense of all else. (ii) A need to go beyond liberal political and economic theory and recognise the significance of 'structural power' in the international system. (iii) A need to recognise that 'the areas of significant ignorance' in our understanding of the role of the international financial system in an era of technological revolution and globalisation are becoming greater rather than smaller. For Strange, the structural power of capital is not constant and, therefore, cannot be accommodated in the logic of liberal economics. Thus, using the dictionary definition of mad--erratic, unpredictable, irrational behaviour, damaging not only to sufferers but also to others--we have, as she puts it 'mad money'.



Keywords: money, finance, international relations.