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Theoretical and Applied Economics
No. 5 / 2006 (500)

Hegemony and Stability of the International Economy

Gheorghe Gruia
Academia de Studii Economice Bucuresti

Abstract. This paper evaluates the relationship between hegemony and the stability of the world economy in a time in history when the hegemony of the United States is more and more questioned. The theory of hegemonic stability - firstly launched by Charles Kindleberger and further developed by Robert Gilpin, Stephen Krasner and Robert Keohane, states that for an international system of trade and finance to function smoothly there must be a hegemon. According to Keohane, a hegemon is a state that possesses the following characteristics: the ability to create, enforce and maintain international norms; the will to do it; and the decisive domination in the economic, technological and military fields. During the last two centuries the world experienced the hegemony of two powers: Great Britain and the United States, with their good and bad features. These two hegemonies – when exercised, demonstrated the relationship between hegemony and the stability of the world economy. Now, at the beginning of a new century, the hegemony of the United States seems to be questioned and a future posthegemonic world system is still under theoretical debate. In this situation is it wise for the world politicians to hurry the dethroning of the hegemon? This paper argues for the strengthening of the cooperation - mainly between the United States and the European Union, and for the responsible action of all the states in order to make a smooth and orderly transition to a new world system. The lack of cooperation could lead to disorders, to the revival of the protectionist attitude of the United States, and finally to a worsening of the world economy.

Keywords: hegemon; hegemonic stability; world economy; world system.

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