David P. Calleo

David P. Calleo is an American scholar—a student of European and American politics, history and political economy—based at the Johns Hopkins University Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, where he is the Dean Acheson Professor. He also holds the title of University Professor.


The Imperious Economy

David P. Calleo, The Imperious Economy, Cambridge, Massachusetts and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1982.

David P. Calleo: The Imperious Economy

Calleo chronicles American self-deception and high-handedness from 1961 onward, as the United States pursues ever more ambitious domestic goals, spends recklessly on defense and war, abuses the position of the dollar, and pays for its arrogant profligacy with inflated prices, stagflation, and industrial decline. America has never been willing or able to match its ambitions and burdens with real resources.

He pinpoints the sources of inflation in the contradictory and undisciplined policies of the American government. Unguided by any sense of priority and spurred on by specious academic theories, the US has regularly sacrificed long-range interests to short-range politics. The book relates technical economics to power politics and links American aspirations at home with American ambitions abroad. It challenges the conventional wisdom of both the right and the left, to arrive at a convincing if painful prescription for genuine reform. The judgments hold up well to the present day.

‘A return to sanity and equilibrium after a decade of ducking the real issues and trying to have domination on the cheap will be neither easy nor painless and must begin, [Calleo] thinks, with a reform not of international but of American institutions – a reform which might well begin with the rejuvenation of American political and economic theory. His message is one which academics on both sides of the Atlantic would do well to take to heart.’

– Susan Strange, The Banker, October 1982

‘A challenging book. It is also elegant, thoughtful, and resolutely independent, and is certainly a significant contribution to the debate on the ailment of the American economy.’

– Daniel Yergin, The Washington Post, August 29, 1982

‘Calleo has no better theory than anyone else to explain how an ambitious and ingenious people, living amid great natural abundance, has found itself repeatedly in its brief history confronted by economic crises and now seems in yet another. But he does show, within the setting of our international relationships… how costly a failure this has been for us and our allies.’

– Jason Epstein, The New York Review of Books, September 23, 1982