The System Worked Reviews


The author makes the provocative and contrarian argument that all those much maligned global institutions, the IMF, the G-20, the WTO, actually performed brilliantly during the global financial crisis and they’ve rescued the world from a total economic collapse. Policy makers acted quickly, nimbly and coordinated with one another, it’s a rare and convincing story in which bureaucrats and politicians come off pretty well..” — Fareed Zakaria, Fareed Zakaria GPS.

Drezner hesitates to forecast the future of the system, not least because serious misunderstandings among politicians and the public continue to distort views about the crisis and what lessons ought to be taken from it. But he convincingly argues that the system responded to a very real stress test surprisingly well.” — Richard N. Cooper, Foreign Affairs

Rarely does a book state its thesis with such simple clarity and then proceed to illuminate it.” — Zachary Karabell, New York Times Book Review.

I have… learnt over the years that, if you find yourself disagreeing with Drezner, you need to take a good hard look at yourself and what you are doing with your life…. this detailed, knowledgeable and cogent book is required reading for everyone in the global governance field – and anyone who wants to know how, bad though things have been since the global financial crisis, they might have been a hell of a lot worse.” — Alan Beattie, Financial Times.

Drezner’s urgent essay aims at persuading us – before it is too late – that we can save ourselves, if only we understood how well we are already doing.” — Eric Rauchway, Times Literary Supplement.

“The System Worked thus ends up as a sharp critique of another system that doesn’t work, namely the global conversation of international affairs commentators, who are often fundamentally misinformed about what is actually happening in the real-world economy.” John Delury, Global Asia.

Drezner repeatedly notes that too many political pundits and even scholars of political science don’t understand economics…. Consider how much commentary about the crisis has naturally focused on the long list of subsequent policy failures. It’s good to have at least one book emphasizing that the list could have been much longer still, and that it’s important to know why it wasn’t.” — Cardiff Garcia, FT Alphaville

Drezner offers a thoughtful and contemporary analysis of global governing systems and their underlying politics.” — Nancy Cook, National Journal.

“Drezner has put forward an argument to be reckoned with, and it is more important that the book find an audience among those who disagree with its conclusions.” — Jonathan Kirshner, Boston Review.

“His argument is as simple as it is jarring: world leaders and international institutions did a good job responding to the global financial crisis. How can Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts University, make such a claim when the situation has been so dire these last few years? The answer is in the data, and the most powerful passages of the book come as Drezner lays out in lucid, direct prose his statistical case.” — John Schellhase, Venture Spain.


Most analyses of the way in which countries work together to tackle international problems conclude with scathing and often justified critiques. In this original and well-written book Daniel Drezner shows how in the recent financial crisis, ‘the system worked.’ This book is full of surprising insights and important policy ideas.” — Moisés Naím, Scholar, Carnegie Endowment and author of The End of Power.

Is today’s global system of economic governance broken? The overwhelming consensus among experts and pundits, writing in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, is that it is. Some go even further and argue that the postwar liberal order itself is unraveling. Leadership is scarce and the problems are more complicated. In this astute and sharply argued book, Daniel Drezner begs to differ. In a detailed survey of international responses to the Great Recession, Drezner makes a convincing case that global institutions–the G20, IMF, WTO, and IMF–actually do still facilitate international cooperation and problem solving… Drezner does not argue that global governance is perfect, but he nicely shows that, contrary to the pessimists, there still is life in the liberal world order.” — G. John Ikenberry, Albert G. Milbank Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University.

This new and excellent book by Daniel Drezner provides the best take on what we did right and why the world did not fall into a global great depression.” — Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution.

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