Article | Political Studies | June 1998

The Politics of Monetary Leadership and Followership: Stability in the European Monetary System Since the Currency Crisis of 1992

by Rawi Abdelal

Abstract

Despite widespread scepticism, there is a fundamental continuity in the stability of the European Monetary System (EMS) before and after the 1992 crisis. Although speculative pressures provoked European leaders to widen the fluctuation bands of the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM), thus altering substantially the official commitment of member governments to coordinate monetary policies and exchange rates, the values of currencies in the hardcore of the EMS have remained close to their pre-crisis parities with limited fluctuations. European monetary cooperation continues informally, achieving much more stability than the wide bands suggest. The task of the article is to explain the puzzling continued success of the EMS. First, this article re-specifies the problem of international monetary cooperation as a leader–follower interaction with inherently hierarchical attributes. Second, the article outlines the causes of exchange-rate stability in Europe. Finally, the article emphasizes that French monetary followership is the key to the stability of the post-crisis arrangement and offers a preliminary interpretation of the sources of French behaviour.

Keywords: Money; Leadership; System; Balance and Stability; Europe;

Citation:

Abdelal, Rawi. "The Politics of Monetary Leadership and Followership: Stability in the European Monetary System Since the Currency Crisis of 1992." Political Studies 46, no. 2 (June 1998): 236–259. (Winner of Harrison Prize Awarded each year for the best article published by Political Studies in that volume.)