The question above was asked from the readers by the author of one of the three best sellers introduced by the Pallas Athéné Publishing House in October. According to the author’s warning we are stepping into an era when it is time to think about ourselves as Eurasians, and the sooner we start to get accustomed to this idea, the better. At the full house events organized in the House of Wisdom well-known experts also added their ideas to the questions raised in the books discussed. One of the book launches was held by the author herself, Sophia Kalantzakos, professor of New York University.

 

Barry Eichengreen, Arnaud Mehl and Livia Chitu: How Global Currencies Work: Past, Present, and Future

On 3 October Dániel Palotai, Managing Director of the Central Bank of Hungary, Dr. György Szapáry, Senior Advisor of the Governor of the Central Bank of Hungary, and Kristóf Lehmann, head of department at the Central Bank of Hungary had a discussion about the book written by Barry Eichengreen, Arnaud Mehl and Livia Chitu and the questions arising therein.

Can there only be a single globally determining currency, or is possible to have several at the same time? – this is the central question of the book entitled How Global Currencies Work: Past, Present, and Future. According to the authors the traditional viewpoint stating that there is room only for one such currency at the same time is not correct. They argue that there can be several global currencies playing a definitive role in world economy at the same time. And the utmost question is whether this central role of the US dollar will stay like this in the future or not?

The authors draw lessons to be learned, and applicable in the present, by drawing up a historic analysis of global currencies. They pay huge attention to exploring the opportunities related to the renminbi. On the basis of experiences, they find it possible that renminbi would shoot ahead pretty fast, just as it happened to the dollar following the outbreak of the First World War. The Japanese way cannot be excluded either: namely that something might interrupt the fast growth. They also point out a third option, according to which China will slowly but securely make progress in making renminbi international.

The authors also have an implicit recommendation: a more democratic decision-making procedure shall be achieved in order to have deeper renminbi financial markets, thus allowing this currency to have a faster advancement. Based on the historic eras introduced they have drawn the conclusion for the future that a time might come where there would be room for several global currencies at the same time.

 

Bruno Maçães: The Dawn of Eurasia

At the book launch of 17 October, Norbert Csizmadia, the President of the Board of Trustees of Paigeo Foundation, Anton Bendarzsevszkij, director of the Foundation, and Ádám Gbur, senior lecturer of the Budapest University of Economics held a discussion about the book of Bruno Maçães, The Dawn of Eurasia.

The Portuguese author – former politician, senior researcher of the Hudson Institute in Washington – makes a basic statement in his book, namely that this decade is not going to belong to either Asia or Europe, and not even to America, but would be the decade of Eurasia. As he unfolds, Eurasia by itself is a complex world, where there is a mixture of very different political systems, which need to co-exist, but, in his opinion, this supercontinent still has the power to achieve a balance. His book – by his intentions – is determined to change our views of Eurasia, and guide us is a way that we could see the unity of Europe and Asia. He also seasons his theses with his own experiences gained during a six-month overland journey.

After the Second World War European countries had to accept that their leading power did not exist anymore, because this role of theirs had been taken over by America. And now, according to the author, it is the time for China to become the world leader, and the role of Eurasia will be appreciating, because China considers that world order can be achieved in the light of this. There is no better proof for this than their One Belt One Road initiative. Although it is still in its baby shoes, this world view proves that China already lives in the age of Eurasia. Just like Russia, adds the author, although it is pretty difficult nowadays to speak about Russians in an optimistic tone.

The author also raises the question when we had thought about ourselves as Eurasians. His own answer is that now we are stepping into an era when it is time to think about that, and the sooner we start to get accustomed to this idea, the better.

The epilogue discusses the influence of Donald Trump having been elected president of the US on international relations. The book considers the twin upheavals of Trump’s election victory and Brexit as responses to these momentous shifts in the global order and the emergence of a new super power. In the author’s opinion these events also symbolize that global power is being transferred to Asia, as the Western part of the world can exercise an ever-decreasing influence and control on this region.

 

Sophia Kalantzakos: China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths

The series of book launches was closed by the volume of Sophia Kalantzakos, entitled China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths, on 24 October. The author, who is a professor at New York University introduced the book herself within the frameworks of a sweeping presentation, then replied quite a few questions raised by the audience.

Although due to its characteristics and the size of its economy China needs to import raw materials, it managed to achieve a significant competitive advantage in the mining and metallurgy of rare earths in the global market – this is how the starting point was described by Sophia Kalantzakos. She introduces the Chinese economic statecraft, i.e. how the Chinese State intervenes to global politics through economic devices, by showing a case study about China’s monopolistic situation in the global supply chain of rare earths. The author also maps the relationship between Chinese geopolitical aspirations and economic devices; this can also support the interpretation of the currently escalating Chinese-American trade war and the forecast of its developments.

The book, which is articulated into four chapters introduces the general theoretical debates, which are determining in the political science in connection with competing resources, the scantiness of raw materials, and the utilization of economic devices for geopolitical purposes. It also gives a detailed introduction of the wide use of rare earths, their influence on technological development and the industries making use of that.

By describing two historical analogies the author also provides a context related to the historic importance of raw materials, going beyond economic life: the strategic and defence related utilizations of salt and crude oil and their role played in technological advancement show a real parallel with the use of rare earths.

Finally, Kalantzakos also analyses China’s journey from the very beginnings to its currently existing global monopolistic situation; she also evaluates the process of the crises; and furthermore, the answer of democracies to international consequences deriving from the centralized economic leadership of the Chinese State. The author states: China uses its rare-earth monopoly not only to economic, but to geopolitical purposes as well. In her opinion Western democracies failed to make a move on state managed capitalism, while a more forceful intervention would have been necessary in the industry.

 

The books How Global Currencies Work: Past, Present, and Future, The Dawn of Eurasia and China and the Geopolitics of Rare Earths are available in the bookshop of PABooks, together with other earlier publications. Recent information about the latest books of the publishing house are available at the www.pallasathenekiado.hu website, where the publications can also be purchased via the webshop.

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