The Fifth Anniversary of the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy

The Fifth Anniversary of the Lehman Brothers Bankruptcy and Our Top 10 Books on Banking

Since the economic downturn in America, people have been paying much more attention to what is going on with their government, their spending, and most certainly their banks. As today is the fifth anniversary of the Lehman Brothers filing for bankruptcy (the largest bankruptcy filing in the history of the United States), we here at the Press thought we would help you all out a little by suggesting some of our best publications on bank failures, economic regulations, and financial crises. Fun topic for a lazy Sunday, right?
Click on the titles below to learn more about them, and don’t forget to check back tomorrow for an exclusive excerpt from our newest banking book this year: The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It by Anat Admati and Martin Hellwig.

The Banker's New Clothes1) The Bankers’ New Clothes: What’s Wrong with Banking and What to Do about It
By: Anat Admati & Martin Hellwig
What is wrong with today’s banking system? The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. The Bankers’ New Clothes examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid.

2) DeDebt's Dominionbt’s Dominion: A History of Bankruptcy Law in America
By: David A. Skeel Jr.
David Skeel provides the first complete account of the remarkable journey American bankruptcy law has taken from its beginnings in 1800, when Congress lifted the country’s first bankruptcy code right out of English law, to the present day.


3) HowHow Big Banks Fail Big Banks Fail and What to Do about It
By: Darrell Duffie
How Big Banks Fail and What to Do about It examines how large dealer banks (like J.P. Morgan and Goldman Sachs) collapse and how we can prevent the need to bail them out.


4) UnWhysettled Account: The Evolution of Banking in the Industrialized World since 1800
By: Richard S. Grossman
In Unsettled Account, Richard Grossman takes the first truly comparative look at the development of commercial banking systems over the past two centuries in Western Europe, the United States, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Grossman focuses on four major elements that have contributed to banking evolution: crises, bailouts, mergers, and regulations.


Rochet_Why11115) Why Are There So Many Banking Crises? The Politics and Policy of Bank Regulation
By: Jean-Charles Rochet
Almost every country in the world has sophisticated systems to prevent banking crises. Yet such crises–and the massive financial and social damage they can cause–remain common throughout the world. Jean-Charles Rochet, one of the world’s leading authorities on banking regulation, makes the case that, although many banking crises are precipitated by financial deregulation and globalization, political interference often causes–and almost always exacerbates–banking crises.

6) AppAppeasing Bankerseasing Bankers: Financial Caution on the Road to War
By: Jonathan Kirshner
The financial world values economic stability above all else, and crises and war threaten that stability. Appeasing Bankers shows that, when faced with the prospect of war or international political crisis, national financial communities favor caution and demonstrate a marked aversion to war.


7) CodCodes of Financees of Finance: Engineering Derivatives in a Global Bank
By: Vincent Antonin Lépinay
Codes of Finance takes readers behind the scenes of the equity derivatives business at one of the world’s leading investment banks before the crisis, providing a detailed firsthand account of the creation, marketing, selling, accounting, and management of these financial instruments–and of how they ultimately created havoc inside and outside the bank.


Balancing the Banks8) Balancing the Banks: Global Lessons from the Financial Crisis
By: Mathias Dewatripont, Jean-Charles Rochet & Jean Tirole
Translated by: Keith Tribe
Bringing together three leading financial economists to provide an international perspective, Balancing the Banks draws critical lessons from the causes of the crisis and proposes important regulatory reforms, including sound guidelines for the ways in which distressed banks might be dealt with in the future.


9) BankBanking on the Futureing on the Future: The Fall and Rise of Central Banking
By: Howard Davies & David Green
Banking on the Future provides a fascinating insider’s look into how central banks have evolved and why they are critical to the functioning of market economies. The book asks whether, in light of the recent economic fallout, the central banking model needs radical reform.


10) Banksprincetonlogo and Politics in America from the Revolution to the Civil War
By: Bray Hammond
Bray Hammond investigates into the role of banking in the formation of American society. Hammond, who was assistant secretary of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System from 1944 to 1950, presents this 771-page book with a definitive account of how banking evolved in the United States in the context of the nation’s political and social development.

Jill Lepore is Runner-up for Art of the Essay Award

Jill Lepore – The Story of America: Essays on Origins
Runner-up for the 2013 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay, PEN American Center

“The 2013 PEN/Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award for the Art of the Essay will be awarded “…to a book of essays published in 2012 that exemplifies the dignity and esteem that the essay form imparts to literature.”

“Award winners and runners-up will be honored at the 2013 PEN Literary Awards Ceremony on Monday, October 21, 2013, at CUNY Graduate Center’s Proshansky Auditorium in New York City, featuring Master of Ceremonies Andy Borowitz.

For more information about the award, check out:

The Story of AmericaIn The Story of America, Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore investigates American origin stories–some moving, some painful, and all of them fascinating, from John Smith’s account of the founding of Jamestown in 1607 to Barack Obama’s 2009 inaugural address–to show how American democracy is bound up with the history of print. Over the centuries, Americans have read and written their way into a political culture of ink and type.

Part civics primer, part cultural history, The Story of America excavates the origins of everything from the paper ballot and the Constitution to the I.O.U. and the dictionary. Along the way it presents fresh readings of Benjamin Franklin’s Way to Wealth, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, and “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as well as histories of lesser-known genres, including biographies of presidents, novels of immigrants, and accounts of the Depression.

From past to present, Lepore argues, Americans have wrestled with the idea of democracy by telling stories. In this thoughtful and provocative book, Lepore offers at once a history of origin stories and a meditation on storytelling itself.

Jill Lepore is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at the New Yorker. Her books include The Mansion of Happiness, The Whites of Their Eyes (Princeton), and Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin.

Working for the (Labor Day) weekend: PUP’s holiday reading recommendation

It’s been an American tradition for over a century. Here in PUP’s home state of New Jersey, we started celebrating the working man and woman more than 120 years ago. This year, readers can observe Labor Day with a look back at how the workforce has developed in that time.

Nelson Lichtenstein’s State of the Union: A Century of American Labor surveys the history of the American workforce and examines how trade unionism has waxed and waned in the nation’s political and moral imagination, among both devoted partisans and intransigent foes. From the steel foundry to the burger-grill, from Woodrow Wilson to John Sweeney, from Homestead to Pittston, Lichtenstein weaves together a compelling matrix of ideas, stories, strikes, laws, and people in a streamlined narrative of work and labor in the twentieth century.

PUP has j9780691160276ust released a revised and expanded edition of this award-winning book, which includes a new preface and two new chapters by the author. Lichtenstein engages with many of those who have offered commentary on State of the Union and evaluates the historical literature that has emerged in the decade since the book’s initial publication. He also brings his narrative into the current moment with a final chapter, “Obama’s America: Liberalism without Unions.”

Here’s more on this thought-provoking read:

The “labor question” became a burning issue during the Progressive Era because its solution seemed essential to the survival of American democracy itself. Beginning there, Lichtenstein takes us all the way to the organizing fever of contemporary Los Angeles, where the labor movement stands at the center of the effort to transform millions of new immigrants into alert citizen unionists. He offers an expansive survey of labor’s upsurge during the 1930s, when the New Deal put a white, male version of industrial democracy at the heart of U.S. political culture. He debunks the myth of a postwar “management-labor accord” by showing that there was (at most) a limited, unstable truce.

Lichtenstein argues that the ideas that had once sustained solidarity and citizenship in the world of work underwent a radical transformation when the rights-centered social movements of the 1960s and 1970s captured the nation’s moral imagination. The labor movement was therefore tragically unprepared for the years of Reagan and Clinton: although technological change and a new era of global economics battered the unions, their real failure was one of ideas and political will. Throughout, Lichtenstein argues that labor’s most important function, in theory if not always in practice, has been the vitalization of a democratic ethos, at work and in the larger society. To the extent that the unions fuse their purpose with that impulse, they can once again become central to the fate of the republic. State of the Union is an incisive history that tells the story of one of America’s defining aspirations.


For a look at the history of Labor Day, including facts about its start, visit

More from Gabriella Coleman on the NSA Leaks

Today in a final post in our ongoing NSA debate between authors Gabriella Coleman and Rahul Sagar,  Professor Coleman, author of Coding Freedom, responds to Professor Sagar’s recent post, offering a historical perspective on intelligence agencies and raising the potential for grave abuse in an era of increased technological capabilities. Read the wrap up post in this fascinating series here:

Gabriella Coleman:

Rahul Sagar’s thoughtful response has prompted me to think through a few troubling questions which have been plaguing me since Snowden’s bombshell revelations. It is without question that intelligence agencies require secrecy to effectively work.  I agree that this issue is not new. But if history is any guide, it also shows that secrecy, while necessary, is also a breeding ground for abuse. In a prior era, a dramatic leak by the Citizens Commission to Investigate the FBI helped put an end to a 40 year reign of outrageous abuses, such as COINTELPRO, at the helm of J. Edgar Hoover who ruled the FBI with an secretive iron fist.

But this surveillance apparatus strikes as technologically and thus historically distinctive. It can be gravely abused with or without a Hoover. Never in our history have we had in place a surveillance infrastructure as extensive and powerful as we do now, nor administrations who have refused so systematically to declassify information. (One does wonder what Nixon could have done with the surveillance methods that the government has at its disposal today).  With enough computer power, it is frighteningly easy for the government to gather data. This ease will likely push them to seek questionable or ex post de facto justifications for their actions. This was put rather cogently and succinctly by civil liberties lawyer Jennifer Granick when “Of course, we see mission creep – once you build the mousetrap of surveillance infrastructure, they will come for the data.” It is not only that they have this power, but as sociologists and others, have noted, secrecy is alluring and really hard to give up/ This state of mind was put best by physicist Edward Teller who wrote, “secrecy, once accepted, becomes an addiction.”

There might be a very good reason to have the surveillance methods that the NSA has now, but until that reason is disclosed, there is no reason for them to have such awesome technical (and questionable) legal powers currently at their disposal. The problem is we have these programs and our government could use them as a tool of oppression (in fact the mere fact of their existence serves to stifle dissent). Even if abuses are not so grave today, what is so troubling is how these programs enable any future person who might gain control of them to utilize these tools for serious oppression.

We as a society have to ask whether this is a gamble we are willing to take. Since the stakes for the future are so high, the decision about the scope and depth of eavesdropping cannot and should not be an undertaking that is decided by the President, the FISA court, or even all the three branches of government acting in agreement. Only we as a people, who hold the truths described in the constitution as self-evident, are allowed, by that very constitution, to make changes to these rights. “to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men [and Women et al.], deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” At some point, the actions of the government go too far, and it is up to us to sound the alarm. The Pentagon Papers, the COINTELPRO leaks, the Tet Offensive, these are many instances when citizens have not trusted our elected officials and with good reason.

It is our responsibility to hold our elected officials accountable, although we  can only effectively do so with the aid of a free press. Journalists help keep whistle-blowers accountable. Snowden worked with journalists, from independent film maker Laura Poitras to Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian to Barton Gellman of the Washington Post. The fact that respected news organizations accepted the leaks, filtered the information, and wrote extensive and thoughtful stories demonstrates the validity and responsibility of Snowden’s actions. If his leaks posed such a grave threat to the state of security, I trust these media establishments would not gone public with them.

Finally, I would like to clarify Snowden’s statements on Nuremberg. He is not equating the NSA with Nazi Germany, he just simply referencing a principle. He is also not saying that this principle exonerates him in any US court, but simply that it justifies his actions on a moral level. Snowden is saying that there are times where it is not only moral to break the law, but that it is immoral and wrong to not break the law. Further, it might be interesting  engage  in a thought experiment about how Snowden’s actions also might relate to the Nuremberg Principles.  For the purposes of this experiment, we would submit some undisputed facts about The United States. The United States continues to torture and cause substantial suffering to 44 people who are still held against their will in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, via forced nasal intubation twice daily. In the past, they were tortured by electrocuting their genitals, and simulated drowning through waterboarding. The US has forcibly rendered people to other countries for purposes of torture, and deprive them of their liberty without charge or due process, calling them “detainees”. If we look how Nuremberg Principles defines a “crime against humanity” the United States has committed over half of the abuses on that list. The programs that Snowden has revealed likely were involved in the capture and detainment of many of these people.

In the end I, like everyone else, wants to live in a state of security. This means not only  thwarting terrorism—though it invariably includes it—but means having the security to engage in dissent, thus the security to call out the grave human rights abuses—such as those at Guantanamo Bay—which our elected officials have allowed to transpire and to raise red flags about programs, such as Prism, which might lead to grave abuse in the future.



Professor William G. Howell discusses his new book: ‘Thinking About Presidency’

Prof. William G. Howell hopes to focus the national conversation about the American presidency. In his new book, Thinking about the Presidency: The Primacy of Power, Howell argues that to understand presidential behavior, it is necessary to recognize that a president’s core interest is in guarding, acquiring and expanding his base of power.

“This single, simple insight about the president and power goes a long way to explaining presidential behavior,” said Howell, the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, in an interview about his new book, arguing that once this fundamental truth is more widely accepted, discourse on the presidency will become more coherent and fruitful.

Howell hopes his new work will advance presidential studies similarly to how David Mayhew’s 1974 book, Congress: The Electoral Connection affected legislative studies—providing an organizational template for future arguments and theories.

“Mayhew pointed out the profound effect that concern with reelection had on the behavior of legislators and that changed and focused the conversation,” Howell said. “Right now in presidential studies, there is a real preoccupation with anecdotes and stories while scholars are talking past one another.”

Howell contends that the presidential preoccupation with power is not a single-minded pursuit, but that its attainment and maintenance affects all presidential efforts, whether they involve bargaining with others or new sources of influence. In fact, he adds, concerns about power are logical and necessary to enact public policy, undo the work of predecessors, respond to perceived public mandates and secure a strong place in history.

“The president sits alone atop his governing institution and has eyes on a broader and longer horizon than legislators or judges or bureaucrats,” he explained. “He represents the country as a whole. This is part and parcel of a president’s need to obtain power and to exert control. He needs to dominate his branch of government and the whole institution.”

Of course, wanting power and holding power are two different things. In the book, Howell explains that when the Founding Fathers wrote the U.S. Constitution they gave the president only a handful of enumerated powers, but the ambiguity of the document has allowed consecutive presidents to add to their powers over time.  At the same time, the Constitution posits that the general welfare will be protected and promoted not by any single branch of government, but through the interplay of all the three branches.

“Sitting alone on a hill and preaching wisdom and exercising self-restraint is not what the founders had in mind,” Howell said. “They built a government premised on the notion that power would be made to check power and that ambition would be made to check ambition.”

Howell believes that today’s popular notion that presidents should exercise more self-restraint and limit their executive authority is misguided.

“It ignores the foundational incentives that executives face, incentives where they are asked to address every conceivable problem in the world and yet they lack the formal authority within the constitution to fulfill those expectations. They have to manufacture power or they have to beseech the other branches of government to give them powers that are not automatically found in the Constitution if they stand any chance at survival.”

Interestingly, even as presidents accumulate more power for themselves, at no time are they seen more as failures than when they do not exercise that power, especially when it appears that they are refusing to act.

One example of this is President Jimmy Carter and the Iran hostage crisis. In 1979, a group of young Islamic militants stormed the embassy in Tehran and held 66 Americans prisoner for 444 days. Howell points out that Carter’s failure to end the crisis earlier derived not from unwillingness to act but from a lack of viable options. But the fact that more was not done ultimately led to Carter’s downfall.

Still, beyond the Constitutional limits on presidential power are other restrictions, such as cultural misgivings. Built into the American psyche, largely as a result of the dislike of the absolute power held by the British monarchy they left behind, is a condemnation of presidential candidates who betray too much interest in holding the office.

In the 2000 election George W. Bush regularly needled Vice President Al Gore for his long-standing ambition to become president. Further,Washington Post correspondent David Broder derided Gore’s acceptance speech at the Democratic convention because he talked about “what he wants to do as president.” Consequently, Bush was elected, despite the fact that he also came from a long-standing political family. Howell points out that it was the perception of Gore’s thirst for power that defeated him, regardless of the fact that Bush was equally ambitious.

Howells’s nuanced examination of power and the presidency explores more than just the attainment of power, it also looks at how a president’s pursuit of power manifests itself, how it speaks to the standards Americans set for their presidents and how alternative models of executive leadership are ruled out by these standards. Thinking about the Presidency reframes the study of presidential behavior and could change the way the national electorate thinks about its leader.

To view the original article, please visit The University of Chicago’s website:

Thinking about the Presidency by William G. Howell With David Milton Brent
“In this brief, well-written book, William Howell ranges widely and astutely as he encourages readers to view the presidency through the prism of its core dimension–power. This volume will be a valuable complement to courses on the presidency.”–George C. Edwards III, author of Overreach: Leadership in the Obama Presidency
Thinking about the Presidency:
The Primacy of Power

William G. Howell
With David Milton Brent
Drawings by Catherine Hamilton

All American presidents, past and present, have cared deeply about power–acquiring, protecting, and expanding it. While individual presidents obviously have other concerns, such as shaping policy or building a legacy, the primacy of power considerations–exacerbated by expectations of the presidency and the inadequacy of explicit powers in the Constitution–sets presidents apart from other political actors. Thinking about the Presidency explores presidents’ preoccupation with power. Distinguished presidential scholar William Howell looks at the key aspects of executive power–political and constitutional origins, philosophical underpinnings, manifestations in contemporary political life, implications for political reform, and looming influences over the standards to which we hold those individuals elected to America’s highest office.

Howell shows that an appetite for power may not inform the original motivations of those who seek to become president. Rather, this need is built into the office of the presidency itself–and quickly takes hold of whomever bears the title of Chief Executive. In order to understand the modern presidency, and the degrees to which a president succeeds or fails, the acquisition, protection, and expansion of power in a president’s political life must be recognized–in policy tools and legislative strategies, the posture taken before the American public, and the disregard shown to those who would counsel modesty and deference within the White House.

Thinking about the Presidency assesses how the search for and defense of presidential powers informs nearly every decision made by the leader of the nation.

William G. Howell is the Sydney Stein Professor in American Politics at the University of Chicago, where he holds appointments in the Harris School of Public Policy, the Department of Political Science, and the College. His books include While Dangers Gather and Power without Persuasion (both Princeton), as well as The Wartime President. David Milton Brent is a PhD student in the Department of Political Science at Yale University.


Thinking about the Presidency is an important antidote to all the rhetoric, reporting, prognostication, and public discourse that focuses on presidential individuality. Focusing on commonalities across presidents, Howell looks at how the institutional and political setting influences presidential behavior. His message is important.”–Jeffrey E. Cohen, Fordham University

“Howell is a formidable scholar. His informative book will be of broad interest to educated people who want to read a scholarly analysis of the presidency, as viewed through the lens of power.”–James P. Pfiffner, George Mason University

“This book is a crisp take on a key topic. What makes presidents tick? What makes them succeed? It is a good moment to pare down to fundamentals, and this book will serve as a useful guide to our next chief executive–no matter who that turns out to be.”–Andrew Rudalevige, Bowdoin College


Bill Gates includes an award winning PUP title in his 2013 Summer Reading List

Billionaire Bill Gates, chairman and founder of Microsoft Corp., listens during the 2013 Fiscal Summit sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. The summit puts forward solutions for bipartisan agreement to address America’s long-term debt and deficits. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Bill Gates has shared his reading lists before, and this summer he has named some interesting non-fiction (and one fiction) books that he plans on reading. He posted the list last week on his blog:

Among the titles in Bill’s book pile is The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc Levinson. Levinson’s publication has been recognized with a number of awards:

  • Shortlisted for the 2006 Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year
  • Winner of the 2007 Bronze Independent Publisher Book Award, Finance/Investment/Economics category
  • Honorable Mention for the 2006 John Lyman Book Award, Science and Technology category, North American Society for Ocean History
  • Winner of the 2007 Anderson Medal, Society for Nautical Research

To see the rest of the books on Bill’s list, check out this Huffington Post article:

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger by Marc LevinsonThe Box:
How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger

Marc Levinson

In April 1956, a refitted oil tanker carried fifty-eight shipping containers from Newark to Houston. From that modest beginning, container shipping developed into a huge industry that made the boom in global trade possible. The Box tells the dramatic story of the container’s creation, the decade of struggle before it was widely adopted, and the sweeping economic consequences of the sharp fall in transportation costs that containerization brought about.

Published on the fiftieth anniversary of the first container voyage, this is the first comprehensive history of the shipping container. It recounts how the drive and imagination of an iconoclastic entrepreneur, Malcom McLean, turned containerization from an impractical idea into a massive industry that slashed the cost of transporting goods around the world and made the boom in global trade possible.

But the container didn’t just happen. Its adoption required huge sums of money, both from private investors and from ports that aspired to be on the leading edge of a new technology. It required years of high-stakes bargaining with two of the titans of organized labor, Harry Bridges and Teddy Gleason, as well as delicate negotiations on standards that made it possible for almost any container to travel on any truck or train or ship. Ultimately, it took McLean’s success in supplying U.S. forces in Vietnam to persuade the world of the container’s potential.

Drawing on previously neglected sources, economist Marc Levinson shows how the container transformed economic geography, devastating traditional ports such as New York and London and fueling the growth of previously obscure ones, such as Oakland. By making shipping so cheap that industry could locate factories far from its customers, the container paved the way for Asia to become the world’s workshop and brought consumers a previously unimaginable variety of low-cost products from around the globe.


“One of the most significant, yet least noticed, economic developments of the last few decades [was] the transformation of international shipping. . . . The idea of containerization was simple: to move trailer-size loads of goods seamlessly among trucks, trains and ships, without breaking bulk. . . . Along the way, even the most foresighted people made mistakes and lost millions. . . . [A] classic tale of trial and error, and of creative destruction.”–Virginia Postrel, The New York Times

“Marc Levinson’s concern is business history on a grand scale. He tells a moral tale. There are villains … and there is one larger than life hero: Malcom McLean. . . . Levinson has produced a fascinating exposition of the romance of the steel container. I’ll never look at a truck in the same way again.”–Howard Davies, The Times (UK)

“Like much of today’s international cargo, Marc Levinson’s The Box arrives ‘just in time.’. . . It is a tribute to the box itself that far-off places matter so much to us now: It has eased trade, sped up delivery, lowered prices and widened the offering of goods everywhere. Not bad for something so simple and self-contained.”–Tim W. Ferguson, The Wall Street Journal

“[A] smart, engaging book. . . . Mr. Levinson makes a persuasive case that the container has been woefully underappreciated. . . . [T]he story he tells is that of a classic disruptive technology: the world worked in one fashion before the container came onto the scene, and in a completely different fashion after it took hold.”–Joe Nocera, The New York Times

“Mr Levinson. . . . makes a strong case that it was McLean’s thinking that led to modern-day containerisation. It altered the economics of shipping and with that the flow of world trade. Without the container, there would be no globalization.”–The Economist

Joseph Nye discussion at Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

Event Info

Buy TicketsAdd to CalendarAdd to Google

Joseph Nye, author of Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, will speaking in the Merrill House at the Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs. Discussion will revolved around the efficacy of different leadership styles that presidents have adopted. Which presidents ruled by a stronger ethical code? Were radical leaders more effectual in the end? Nye offers answers to these questions and more. The event will take place on THURSDAY, JUNE 6, 2013. The event is about an hour long. It begins at 8:00 AM and is scheduled to conclude at 9:15 AM.

Continental breakfast served at 8:00 AM. Presentations begin at 8:15 AM, followed by a question-and-answer session from 8:45 to 9:15 AM.



During the 20th century, some American presidents tried to forge a new international order, while others sought to manage the country’s status. How did transformational presidents, like Wilson and Reagan, change how the U.S. sees the world? Were transactional presidents, like Eisenhower and the elder Bush, more effective and ethical?

Joseph S. Nye, Jr. is University Distinguished Service Professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is also the former dean of the Kennedy School.

Speaker: Joseph S. Nye, Jr.


Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs
Merrill House
170 East 64th Street
New York, NY 10065-7478

(212) 838-4120
(212) 752-2432 – Fax

Map: Click Here (opens a new window)

Fees for all Public Affairs Programs:

Non-members: $25 per event
Free admission for subscribers. Seating is limited and advance reservations are required. To purchase a subscription, go to Membership.

Morning Public Affairs Programs
Continental breakfast served at 8:00 AM. Presentations begin at 8:15 AM, followed by a question-and-answer session from 8:45 to 9:15 AM.

Joseph Nye is endorsed by active scholars in the political field for his analysis of presidential leadership tactics:“A penetrating combination of scholarly analysis and brilliant historical appraisals. Daring in scope and incisive in judgments, this wise and very timely book redefines our understanding of recent presidential leadership.”–Zbigniew Brzezinski, author of Strategic Vision: America and the Crisis of Global Power

“In looking at presidential leadership and the sources of individual power, Nye fuses together his influential prior work on smart power and leadership. His book is written in an engaging and accessible style, and provides an excellent primer on what presidents can do in foreign policy.”–Daniel W. Drezner, author of Theories of International Politics and Zombies

Joseph Nye speaking at The Chicago Club

Event Info
Buy TicketsAdd to CalendarAdd to Google Nye, author of Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, will speak and sign books at The Chicago Club on TUESDAY, JUNE 4, 2013. The host of the event will be The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. It begins at 5:30 PM with registration and cash bar reception. The event is set to conclude at 7:15 PM with book signings.

Business attire is required.



Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Distinguished Service Professor, Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

As the late twentieth century’s unipolar moment fades, Joseph Nye argues that American power in this new era will be defined by both the forces of international politics and presidential leadership. Nye claims the problem of America’s role in the twenty-first century is not one of a poorly specified “decline,” but rather learning how to cooperate with others for mutual benefits. How will the United States face rising power resources of others—both state and nonstate actors? What is the importance of presidential leadership for the future of American primacy?

Joseph S. Nye Jr. is a distinguished service professor and former dean of the Kennedy School at Harvard University. He has served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, chair of the National Intelligence Council, and deputy under secretary of state for security assistance, science, and technology. He is the author of Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics, Understanding International Conflict, The Power Game: A Washington Novel, The Powers to Lead, and The Future of Power. He received his AB from Princeton University, did postgraduate work at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, and earned a PhD from Harvard.

His latest book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era, will be available for purchase and signing following the program.

Joseph Nye has received accolades for his analysis on presidential foreign policy decisions in Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era:“In this concise and readable study, [...] Nye examines eight administrations, defined as ‘transformational’ or ‘transactional,’ and the diverse ways presidents communicate with and inspire the public. He also entices the historically minded with a ‘What if?’ section that speculates on historical alternatives and provides worthwhile reflections on the uneasy relationship between ethical leadership and effective leadership. Besides risking controversy, his ethical scorecards of presidents–including Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson–illustrate the complexity of such judgments. Nye’s overall assessment that the most dramatic and inspiring presidents are not always the most effective or ethical may, as he notes, overturn conventional wisdom, but the judgment bolsters his admonition to President Obama. His concluding reflections on the changing nature of exercising power in the 21st century effectively contextualize the continuing tensions inherent in managing domestic and international authority.”–Publishers Weekly

“Sometimes the best presidential decisions are decisions not to act. This point is made in an excellent new book by Joseph Nye of Harvard University entitled Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era.”–Gideon Rachman, Financial Times

BOOK FACT FRIDAY – The Federal Reserve & Ben S. Bernanke

k9928“The Federal Reserve was founded 1914, and concerns about both macroeconomic stability and financial stability motivated the decision of Congress and President Woodrow Wilson to create it. After the Civil War and into the early 1900s, there was no central bank, so any kind of financial stability functions that could not be performed by the Treasury had to be done privately.” -Ben S. Bernanke, from chapter one of The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis

In 2012, Ben Bernanke, chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve, gave a series of lectures about the Federal Reserve and the 2008 financial crisis, as part of a course at George Washington University on the role of the Federal Reserve in the economy. In this unusual event, Bernanke revealed important background and insights into the central bank’s crucial actions during the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Taken directly from these historic talks, The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis offers insight into the guiding principles behind the Fed’s activities and the lessons to be learned from its handling of recent economic challenges.

Ben S. Bernanke is chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve. He has served as chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors and as a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. Before his time in public service he was a professor of economics at Princeton University. His many books include Essays on the Great Depression and Inflation Targeting (both Princeton).

The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis
by Ben S. Bernanke

We invite you to read chapter one online at:

Delbanco to Deliver Fribolin Lecture

Mark your calendars! Andrew Delbanco, author of College: What it Is, Was, and Should Be will deliver the 25th Annual Carl and Fanny Fribolin Lecture on Friday, May 3, at Keuka College in New York. The event is free and open to the public. Read more about the event below.

Andrew Delbanco to deliver Fribolin Lecture

Dr. Andrew Delbanco, recipient of the 2011 National Humanities Medal, will deliver the 25th Annual Carl and Fanny Fribolin Lecture Friday, May 3, at Keuka College.

r. Andrew Delbanco, recipient of the 2011 National Humanities Medal, will deliver the 25th Annual Carl and Fanny Fribolin Lecture Friday, May 3, at Keuka College.

One of the highlights of May Day Weekend, Delbanco will discuss “What is College For?” at 6:30 p.m. in Norton Chapel. It is free and open to the public.

The lecture series carries the names of Geneva resident Carl Fribolin, an emeritus member of the College’s Board of Trustees and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2004, and his late wife.

Delbanco is Mendelson Family Chair of American Studies and Julian Clarence Levi Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. He was awarded the 2011 National Humanities Medal by President Barack Obama “for his writing that spans the literature of Melville and Emerson to contemporary issues in higher education.”

In 2001, he was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and named by Time Magazine as “America’s Best Social Critic.” In 2003, he was named New York State Scholar of the Year by the New York Council for the Humanities. In 2006, he received the “Great Teacher Award” from the Society of Columbia Graduates.

Delbanco is the author of many books, including, most recently, College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, and The Abolitionist Imagination. Melville: His World and Work was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Biography, and appeared on “best books” lists in the Washington Post, Independent (London), Dallas Morning News, and TLS. It was awarded the Lionel Trilling Award by Columbia University.

Delbanco’s essays appear regularly in The New York Review of Books, New Republic, New York Times Magazine, and other journals. His topics range from American literary and religious history to contemporary issues in higher education.

Delbanco has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was a member of the inaugural class of fellows at the New York Public Library Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

Bretton Woods Today

In a new article on The Money Trap based on Benn Steil’s round table at CSFI, Bretton Woods as described in The Battle of Bretton Woods is put into today’s context. What are the differences between Bretton Woods in the 1940s and the economic climate today? Take a look:

The Battle of Bretton Woods: Why it’s relevant today

Yesterday I kicked off a round-table discussion organised by the CSFI of Benn Steil’s new book which carries this title. This is what I said.

Benn Steil starts this stimulating book by poking fun at those politicians and others who have, in recent years, called for “a new Bretton Woods”. They have all been disillusioned.

Indeed, to call for a new BW is to invite derision. It is easy to explain why. Those who talk about a new BW look as if they are driven by nostalgia for a golden age – the 1950s and early 1960s – a period which, as Benn says, was briefer and more fraught than is often thought – at most it lasted for about 10 years to the mid 1960s. But the reason why such calls are made so repeatedly does not just reflect a desire to recapture a lost innocence. It also reflects fear of the future – our sense of foreboding. We have a non-system. There are no agreed international rules governing exchange rates and other key dimensions of international monetary relations. We rightly fear that, in the absence of agreed rules, national policies could easily degenerate into the law of the jungle – everybody for himself, where the collective interest would be sacrificed.


It is this recurring nightmare that haunts our visions today, as it did for the architects of the so-called BW system in the 1940s. This is what makes the comparison between then and now so interesting.


So, to kick off the discussion I would like to use the story Benn tells to illustrate a few of the similarities between the world that he recreates – the world as seen though the eyes of monetary thinkers and planners of the 1940s – and our own. I will then pinpoint one big difference. (To be clear, these are themes I find in Steil’s book – but the comparison with today are my own).


Themes that resonate today

I pick out five:

1. Arguments between debtor and creditor countries. 
In one corner, you have the spokesman for the debtors – ailing Maynard Keynes,the designer of the British plan for post-war monetary cooperation and leader of the negotiations on US financial assistance to Great Britain (GB), like GB spending his last reserves in a fight for justice. In the other corner you have an implacable creditor – a foe masquerading as a friend – in the person of Harry White of the US Treasury with his rival plan (Indeed, the book might have been subtitled “The Ugly American meets Brideshead Revisited”). Keynes’s eloquence in defence of the debtors and in favour of sanctions on an unyielding creditor find an uncanny echo in the way US spokesman castigate China for its refusal to adjust. The roles have been reversed, with the spokesmen for the new surplus countries like China now saying very similar things about the US as the US said about Britain in the 1940s. The general American view was that all the UK wanted from the IMF was a cheap source of credit underwritten by the US. Britain was portrayed as profligate, just as the US is today by China. The achievement of Bretton Woods was to find a language to express such differences – a language of mutual adjustment and conditional assistance – that did not just amount to finger-pointing.

2. The  weapon of debtors. They have the threat to walk away from the table – default, throw their toys out of the bath. The US bullied weak and impoverished GB during and after the war. It wanted to take over UK assets on the cheap. It wanted to move the financial leadership of the world from London to Washington DC. It wanted to eliminate permanently any possibility of sterling to be a rival to the dollar sterling. But it also needed GB’s consent to the new world order. Without GB’s agreement, the US would not have Bretton Woods, which was intended to provide a cooperative wrapping for US power – a velvet glove for the iron fist of military and political hegemony. Through agreement with the principal debtor country, the US obtained a means for enforcing its way of doing things, its view of correct behaviour, on the world. It wanted to build a system where the world would be invited “voluntarily” to finance its neo-imperial ambitions. Now again the roles are reversed; it is the US – as the largest debtor – that the new creditors will need to persuade to acquiesce in their new world order – when they start to articulate it. It is now the US that, like GB 70 years ago, lives in a cloud of illusions. It is the US that threatens default – that has in effect already defaulted.

3. Lack of an agreed mechanism of adjustment
. Without agreed rules, norms and proceedures governing international monetary relations, there is no way of bringing the collective interest to bear – at least in any rigorous and sustained way – on individual national policies. The architects of Bretton Woods recognised this and tried to solve it by institutionalising international cooperation through the IMF. They created a mechanism that combined short-term financial assistance with an arrangement to correct longer-term imbalances by changing the exchange rate. But it was always difficult to apply these rules to large countries and since the breakdown of Bretton Woods in 1971 the effort to use group pressure to discipline any large country has failed. This lack of an agreed adjustment mechanism means that we again run the constant risk, as in the 1930s, of competitive currency depreciations.

4, The relationship between governments and financial markets also bears comparison. Keynes and White, with the backing of the US government  - especially Treasury secretary Henry Morgenthau and President Roosevel – were determined to bring private finance to heel. They wanted make bankers submit to democratic, politically-determined rules and the rule of experts. They wanted “to drive speculators from the temple of international finance”. We face similar challenges today from too-big-to-fail banks, shadow banking, and financial innovation. But what tools can we use? In the 1940s, there were no qualms about using phyisical controls, such as exchange restructions, controls oncapital movements, state direction of credit. Keynes and White believed in state planning. We don’t. So the question, exactly how can governments control private finance without throttling the life out of it, remains open.

(It is ironic, by the way, that US bankers vigorously opposed Bretton Woods – yet one of the fund’s main tasks in the past 30 years has been lending to countries experiencing capital outflows to permit them to service debt to large banks.)

5. Lack of academic consensus on the way forward; then as now, Keynes looms large, but he had opponents from Hayek downwards and today opinion remains split, above all on exchange rate policy. Now most economists favour flexible exchange rates; indeed, many think we need more flexibility; but in Europe 17 countries have opted to join not just a fixed rate system but a monetary union and are making huge sacrifices to keep it going. Many others in effect peg to the dollar or the euro. Some economists favour currency boards or heavily managed rates. Despite obvious huge differences in the geo-political context, and the institutional environment, the lack of an academic consensus on exchange rate policies, as on other elements of the IMS, hampers progress.


But this is where there is such an opportunity. 

What both Keynes and White did in their quite different ways was to make a convincing political case for linking domestic economic difficulties – the Great Depression – with lack of a coherent international order and international money. That is brought out well in Benn’s book. It is the kind of narrative missing today.



The biggest difference between then and now is that at Bretton Woods an anchor was already in place with the dollar fixed at $35 an ounce, the rate chosen by President Roosevelt in January 1934. Bretton Woods merely put clothes on a structure whose most important element was already in place. Indeed, it is President Roosevelt who has the strongest claim to be the unwitting architect of what came to be called BW, but would be better called an anchored dollar system. We don’t have an anchor today. Nobody has any idea what the price level in any country will be in five or ten years time. Prices could be lower than today, or twice what they are today. The world price level is indeterminate. In that respect we are starting from a worse position that Keynes and White did.


Keynes had the last laugh

Finally, on Benn’s main theme – how the tough, wily, arrogant, rude, duplicitous Soviet informer and agent White outmanouvred the sickly, silver-tongued British patriot – I take a rather different view.

 It was Keynes who has had the last laugh. For a start, at least since 1971 the IMF has more closely resembled the Keynesian rather than Whitean vision – like it or not, the Fund’s main role has been as a source of credit. Conditionality – which Keynes fought against though he recognised the need to protect the Fund’s resources – has become more flexible. The Fund’s resources – and so its ability to support countries in difficulties – have vastly increased to an extent that would have horrified Harry White. A country can devalue without seeking IMF approval, as Keynes wanted.

We remember Bretton Woods for Keynes’s not White’s contribution. We hold to the vision that Keynes articulated of a global international monetary system that would provide an appropriate mix of national discretion and external discipline. We remember Keynes’s articulation of a symmetrical system that would apply discipline equally on creditors and debtors. We remember his “new-fangled” creation, the bancor, the benchmark for all proposals for super-sovereign currencies.

Above all, we honour Keynes for insisting on – and demonstrating – the connection between a good international monetary system and good domestic policies.

Bretton Woods was a successful conference because it went beyond business as usual in a practical way, reflecting a revolution in ideas that he brought about. That is what we need today.

18 December 1945, Keynes opened the second day’s debate in the House of Lords on the Bretton Woods and US loan agreements legislation with a passionate plea for his handiwork:

The proposals were, he said, an attempt “to use what we have learnt from modern experience and analysis, not to defeat, but to implement the wisdom of Adam Smith..We are attempting a great step forward towards the goal of international economic order amidst national diversities of policies….Fresh tasks now invite. Opinions have been successfully changed. The work of destruction has been accomplished and the site has been cleared for a new structure”.

Robert Skidelsky labels this as the greatest of all Keynes’s public speeches. Indeed, Skidelsky suggests, perhaps it is in the realm of rhetoric that Keynes’s true greatness lies. Benn Steil also refers to his great rhetorical powers.  Somehow, this rhetoric still echoes to us, still resonates…Benn’s book brings it alive for a new generation.

The big lesson for us is this: no country can get out of this recession by itrs own unaided efforts.

Jackie Robinson Day

April 15, 1947: a great day for baseball, a better day to break down barriers. Jackie Robinson made his professional baseball debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers on this day in 1947. The impact was not only prolific in terms of civil rights, but within the realm of the sports world, professional baseball gained a huge contender.

Today, Robinson’s courageous step into the national spotlight in becoming the first African American professional baseball player is celebrated through Major League Baseball’s Jackie Robinson Day. This year marks the fifth annual celebration that is recognized annually on April 15th- the day of Robinson’s major league debut. During every ball game today, all the uniformed personnel will be sporting Robinson’s iconic jersey number, 42.

Spring is in the air so naturally baseball season is in its prime. Head out to the ballpark and learn some more about what Robinson added to America’s favorite pastime!

1. Baseball in Blue and Gray: The National Pastime during the Civil War by George B. Kirsch

During the Civil War, Americans from homefront to battlefront played baseball as never before. While soldiers slaughtered each other over the country’s fate, players and fans struggled over the form of the national pastime. George Kirsch gives us a color commentary of the growth and transformation of baseball during the Civil War. He shows that the game was a vital part of the lives of many a soldier and civilian–and that baseball’s popularity had everything to do with surging American nationalism.

By 1860, baseball was poised to emerge as the American sport. Clubs in northeastern and a few southern cities played various forms of the game. Newspapers published statistics, and governing bodies set rules. But the Civil War years proved crucial in securing the game’s place in the American heart. Soldiers with bats in their rucksacks spread baseball to training camps, war prisons, and even front lines. As nationalist fervor heightened, baseball became patriotic. Fans honored it with the title of national pastime. War metaphors were commonplace in sports reporting, and charity games were scheduled. Decades later, Union general Abner Doubleday would be credited (wrongly) with baseball’s invention. The Civil War period also saw key developments in the sport itself, including the spread of the New York-style of play, the advent of revised pitching rules, and the growth of commercialism.

Kirsch recounts vivid stories of great players and describes soldiers playing ball to relieve boredom. He introduces entrepreneurs who preached the gospel of baseball, boosted female attendance, and found new ways to make money. We witness bitterly contested championships that enthralled whole cities. We watch African Americans embracing baseball despite official exclusion. And we see legends spring from the pens of early sportswriters.

Rich with anecdotes and surprising facts, this narrative of baseball’s coming-of-age reveals the remarkable extent to which America’s national pastime is bound up with the country’s defining event.

2. Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953 by G. Edward White

At a time when many baseball fans wish for the game to return to a purer past, G. Edward White shows how seemingly irrational business decisions, inspired in part by the self-interest of the owners but also by their nostalgia for the game, transformed baseball into the national pastime. Not simply a professional sport, baseball has been treated as a focus of childhood rituals and an emblem of American individuality and fair play throughout much of the twentieth century. It started out, however, as a marginal urban sport associated with drinking and gambling. White describes its progression to an almost mythic status as an idyllic game, popular among people of all ages and classes. He then recounts the owner’s efforts, often supported by the legal system, to preserve this image.

Baseball grew up in the midst of urban industrialization during the Progressive Era, and the emerging steel and concrete baseball parks encapsulated feelings of neighborliness and associations with the rural leisure of bygone times. According to White, these nostalgic themes, together with personal financial concerns, guided owners toward practices that in retrospect appear unfair to players and detrimental to the progress of the game. Reserve clauses, blacklisting, and limiting franchise territories, for example, were meant to keep a consistent roster of players on a team, build fan loyalty, and maintain the game’s local flavor. These practices also violated anti-trust laws and significantly restricted the economic power of the players. Owners vigorously fought against innovations, ranging from the night games and radio broadcasts to the inclusion of African-American players. Nonetheless, the image of baseball as a spirited civic endeavor persisted, even in the face of outright corruption, as witnessed in the courts’ leniency toward the participants in the Black Sox scandal of 1919.

White’s story of baseball is intertwined with changes in technology and business in America and with changing attitudes toward race and ethnicity. The time is fast approaching, he concludes, when we must consider whether baseball is still regarded as the national pastime and whether protecting its image is worth the effort.