Carla Norrlof, Ph.D.

University of Toronto

Country: Canada (Ontario)

Research Interests

Political Economy

Foreign Policy

Great Powers

Liberal International Order

Global Monetary Order

Global Currencies

Sovereign Debt


Countries of Interest

United States


Journal Articles:

(2018) Hegemony and Inequality: Trump and the Liberal Playbook, International Affairs

A pivotal question raised in the 1980s debate over the durability of the US led order haunts us in real time. Does the postwar liberal international order (LIO), which the US was central in shaping, serve American interests? President Donald J. Trump answers a resounding no, promising an ambitious redistributive program to rebalance global wealth and power. Similar to political platforms in other advanced countries, Trump argues for a fundamental revision of the order, proposing a renewal of international principles to foster a global system tailored to US interests. The major theaters where this battle is being fought are the politics of security, trade and money. Prominent academics align on some aspects of this agenda. Contrary to them, I show that as primary beneficiary of the LIO, the US will be its first casualty. While President Trump is right to identify the potential role redistribution could play in strengthening America’s global leadership, he misidentifies the nature of the distribution problem. Internationally, ‘America First’ is premised on zero-sum logic and poses a risk to the LIO, and to US security and prosperity. Domestically, ‘white America First’ proposes to restore lost greatness to white Americans, aggravating economic and political inequality in the US. Drawing on presidential exit polls, other survey data, real income and income growth nationally and regionally, I explain the 2016 election outcome as a function of education and ethnicity, contextualized by income concerns, and racism. Redistributive domestic policies, particularly expanding higher education, are necessary for US support of the LIO to endure.

(2016) The international political economy of money, macro-money theories and methods, Review of International Political Economy

The 2008 financial crisis exposed the fragility of advanced economies to financial caprice and the centrality of the United States in the global financial order. Understanding the power structures behind global financial orders, their distributional effects, as well as the systemic consequences associated with practices within domestic financial systems, particularly within financial centers, remains a priority. In a recent commentary, Cohen argues that the field is fragmented and that excessive attention to social scientific method is to blame. I agree with Cohen that the field of IPE of finance is fragmented but I disagree that social scientific method is the cause. The fragmentation, and slow progress in the IPE of money, to which Cohen refers, is rather attributable to a lack of social scientific method, resulting in conceptual and empirical ambiguity, and unclear standards. Finally, I outline how social science methods could produce the kind of systemic analysis Cohen is calling for, ‘macro-money theories’, the flip side of the ‘micro-money theories’ embodied by open economy politics.

(2014) Dollar Hegemony: A Power Analysis, Review of International Political Economy

The dollar has been the world’s first currency since the end of World War II, possibly since the inter-war period, and is the leading currency today. A growing chorus of observers believes this dollar-centered order is coming to an end. While much commentary revolves around changes in the distribution of power, measures are only loosely related to the material basis for currency dominance. A proper understanding of the dollar’s global role requires a quantitative assessment of the United States’ monetary capabilities and currency influence relative to potential rivals. Moreover, while there is general recognition that a shift in power capabilities away from the United States is an insufficient, although necessary, condition for the prevailing currency hierarchy to reverse, there exists no systematic exploration of how power is exercised when converting monetary capabilities into currency influence. This paper offers a systematic assessment of the monetary capabilities and currency influence of all countries in the world as well as an analysis of how the three faces of power sustain dollar hegemony.