After completing my undergraduate and Masters degrees at University of Toronto in Economics, International Relations and Chinese Studies, I went to the London School of Economics to complete my PhD in Economic History. Since then I have held academic positions at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, Royal Holloway, University of London and University of Glasgow. I have also been visiting professor at Nankai University, China, and Hong Kong University. Outside academia I have spent time as a visiting researcher at the International Monetary Fund and at the Hong Kong Institute for Monetary Research. I’m an Associate Fellow in international economics at Chatham House, London and I am on the Academic Council of the European Association of Banking and Financial History.
The Decline of Sterling; managing the retreat of an international currency 1945-1992, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).
The demise of sterling as an international currency was widely predicted after 1945, but the process took thirty years to complete. Why was this demise so prolonged? Traditional explanations emphasize British efforts to prolong sterling's role because it increased the capacity to borrow, enhanced prestige, or supported London as a centre for international finance. This book challenges this view by arguing that sterling's international role was prolonged by the weakness of the international monetary system and by collective global interest in its continuation. Using the archives of Britain's partners in Europe, the USA and the Commonwealth, Catherine Schenk shows how the UK was able to convince other governments that sterling's international role was critical for the stability of the international economy and thereby attract considerable support to manage its retreat. This revised view has important implications for current debates over the future of the US dollar as an international currency.
International economic relations
International monetary system
International banking and finance
My research focuses on the development of the international economy since 1945 with particular emphasis on the evolution of international banking and finance and the international monetary system. My current funded project is Uses of the Past in International Economic Relations (UPIER) funded by the Humanities in the European Research Area. This project has partners in Sweden, Switzerland and Spain and focuses on how the past was interpreted and used by policy-makers and market actors during and after financial crises. I’m especially interested in the accumulation and restructuring of sovereign debt in the 1970s and 1980s. My other research focuses on the transitions between international currencies and proposals for reform of the international monetary system in the 1970s and 1980s and the development of international banking and financial regulation. Finally, I have a special interest in the history of China’s international economic relations through Hong Kong.