Off Balance: The Travails of Institutions That Govern the Global Financial System

Published: October 11, 2013
Off Balance

Award-winning journalist and author Paul Blustein has received wide acclaim for his books about the inner workings of international economic institutions, notably the International Monetary Fund and World Trade Organization. In Off Balance, he weaves a compelling narrative that details the failings of such institutions in the global financial crisis that erupted in 2008.

Based on interviews with scores of policy makers and on thousands of pages of confidential documents to which Blustein obtained exclusive access, the book focusses mainly on the IMF and the Financial Stability Forum in the run-up to and early months of the crisis. Blustein exposes serious weaknesses in these and other institutions, which lead to sobering conclusions about the governability of the global economy.

Advance Praise for Off Balance

Much of the world’s ability to mitigate the consequences of its periodic financial crises depends on the capacity of its multilateral institutions to bridge the gap between the sovereignty of nations and the inevitable globalization of their economies. Paul Blustein’s extensive experience and his ability to explain the complex in human terms drives this point home in no uncertain terms.

The Right Honourable Paul Martin, former Prime Minister of Canada

Who knew that a detailed account of the regulation of global finance could actually be...spellbinding. Only Paul Blustein — journalist, forensic economist and financial detective extraordinaire — could have possibly written it. The new revelations based on confidential documents alone are well worth the price of entry, although there is much more for the specialist and general reader alike. Highly recommended.

 —Barry Eichengreen, George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley

Blustein combines the journalist’s story-telling skills with the historian’s perspective to relate a story that is still being played out in the G7, G20 and the Bank for International Settlements, as well as in the IMF and the FSB. His conclusion is sobering: despite the failings demonstrated before and during the 2008 crisis, the current judgment is “mission unaccomplished.”

—Stephen Grenville, Visiting Fellow, Lowy Institute for International Policy and former Deputy Governor and board member, the Reserve Bank of Australia

eBook ISBN

The Centre for International Governance Innovation
  • Paul Blustein is a CIGI senior fellow. An award-winning journalist and author, he has written extensively about international economics, trade and financial crises.