My latest book - Shades of Sovereignty - Money and the Making of the State is due for publication next month. Friends have again been very encouraging and supportive , reading the text and making corrections and suggestions. As ever, I remain hugely grateful.


Shades of Sovereignty

Money and the Making of the State

This comprehensive book traces the role of money in the creation of the state. Starting in the early modern era, Paul Wilson explores the monetary systems of empires and new states in the age of nation-building in the eighteenth and nineteenth century. Spanning a wide geographical and historical range from the creation of the United States of America to the establishment of the European Union and the breakup of the Soviet Union and beyond, the author examines changing attitudes toward monetary sovereignty as dozens of new states created new currencies since the end of the Second World War.


Wilson analyzes the decision–making of newly independent states in their choice of an appropriate currency, considering the complex factors involved—ranging from the purely economic to questions of security, international recognition, and outright nationalism that have played a part. The author challenges the notion that each country must necessarily have its own currency and explains why some newly independent countries have chosen to adopt the currency of another state. Citing the examples of international currency unions of the nineteenth century and the present day, he contends that sharing a currency does not represent a surrender of political sovereignty. Instead, Wilson argues for a more rational attitude toward money as a facilitator of transactions rather than as a symbol of national identity.

Professor Forrest Capie

Cass Business School, City University of London

In ‘Hostile Money’ Paul Wilson brings a different perspective to the study of money and draws on historical experience to illustrate the two-way relationship money has with society. Money can be used consciously and possibly aggressively to shape matters or it can itself be the consequence of, for example, social changes. Wilson discusses in a large coverage over time and space: the effect of social movements on monetary systems; the impact of war on monetary systems; and the interplay between private and state activities and aims.  But there are many other interesting aspects of the story such as counterfeiting, both private and state, or of smuggling and so on.  This is a book full of interest for all kinds of audiences.

John PlenderAuthor of Capitalism: Money, Morals and Markets.Paul Wilson's Hostile Money is an extraordinarily wide ranging reviewof the relations between war, revolution and money - an essential andcompelling guide to a fascinating area where economics  andgeopolitics collide.

Hostile Money

Paola Subacchi 

Professor of International Economics, University of London's Queen Mary Global Policy Institute

Paul Wilson, Hostile Money: Currencies in Conflict, The History Press, 2019.

I am intrigued by the numerous links between money, power, and conflict, but I am also frustrated by how the topic is typically treated – mainly by international-relations specialists, because economists generally steer clear of it. This well-researched book, which includes both historical examples and contemporary evidence, avoids those pitfalls, while offering a fresh perspective on some important dynamics.

Project Syndicate Website Book Recommendations 2019

Robert Pringle

Impressively erudite, he never lets his command of detail hold up the story, so that the reader is swept up in the stormy history of money’s role in some of the greatest social, political and military conflicts from ancient Rome to the cyber warfare of the 21st century.

Wilson successfully explores the inter-connections between major social movements/events/conflicts on the one hand and money/monetary systems one the other. 

The author wears his scholarship lightly. He has no ideological axes to grind. He avoids getting bogged down in sterile debates  for example about monetarist versus Keynesian interpretations of the Great Depression or other much-debated periods of 20th century economic history. He rightly views money as a key social institution, responding to political, military and economic pressures but having its own dynamic. Money stands ready to make its contribution to progress, given the chance to do so. It is part of the effort to better the human condition. This combination of qualities make the book a pleasure to read.


WARREN COATS – Countries and Currencies in the Holy Land

In researching my first book – Hostile Money – Currencies in Conflict (Stroud, The History Press, 2019) - I drew on Warren Coats’ One Currency for Bosnia (Ottawa, Jameson Books,2007). Digging a little deeper into on-line information of Warren’s professional career at the International Monetary Fund, I was astonished to learn of the extraordinary geographical range of his work in helping to establish central banks and currency arrangements for newly independent states over 20 plus years until his retirement from the fund in 2003.

From 1992, he either participated in or led IMF technical advisory missions to Bulgaria, Kazakhstan and other countries of the former Soviet Union and former Yugoslavia. Much of his work has been in difficult environments – Iraq after the 2003 invasion; Bosnia after the Dayton accord peace agreement of 1995; Kosovo following the NATO intervention there and Afghanistan in 2002 as well as South Sudan following independence. He has helped to set up the central bank of Bosnia and the Palestine Monetary Authority and advised Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and South Sudan in the introduction of their independent currencies. Thus, Warren’s career straddled an extraordinary time of change, with the creation of some twenty new countries and some major conflicts requiring the re-building of national capacity in countries shattered by civil war. As I noted in Hostile Money (Note 42, Page 259) – ‘The range of Coats’ experience in helping to resolve some of the thorniest currency problems in recent decades is extraordinary. One can only hope that the IMF has bottled his knowledge and experience to be uncorked on the occasion of future crises.’


A couple of years ago I felt it was a great pity that Warren had not published more on his experiences. However, he has more recently been publishing small easy-to- read books combining material on his central banking support activity and his personal views about the countries concerned. I have just finished his Palestine: The Oslo Accords Before and After published this year and could have wished that it had been available when I was writing Shades of Sovereignty – Money and the Making of the State. The book contains illuminating additional detail on the Palestine Monetary Authority. But even more striking are the personal views of this highly civilised and rather self- effacing American on the intractable Israeli- Palestinian situation. Candid, impartial, humane and informed by experiences of dealing ‘on the ground’ with technocrats in Israel and Palestine, Warren’s views are worth more than any number of parti pris opinion columns by pundits who have never been anywhere near the front line or done anything constructive to assist.

Polydromic – the meaning

Some people may be as surprised as I am that it is impossible to find a definition for ‘polydromic’ at any of the on-line dictionaries.

As a noun, Polydrom has existed for at least 5 years and will be recognized by anyone finding this website. Created from the Greek prefix ‘Poly’ – meaning ‘multiple’ or ‘many’ and Dromos – meaning ‘route’ or’ path’. 

So, Polydrom = anything or any place with many routes leading to or from it. Polydromic –   the ability to attain, enter  or exit anything or any place by multiple routes.

For example:

The means to great wealth are polydromic.

The opportunities for recreational escapism are polydromic

Polydromic approaches to education and learning must be the aspiration of any flexible and civilized society

Central park is a recreational polydrom.

The internet is now the ultimate polydrom of knowledge

Why this seems to have escaped the attention of the lexicographers is puzzling.



After careers in the Army and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office I joined De La Rue PLC, the banknote and passport printers in 1994. Over my more than 20 years there in various roles including those of Sales Director of the Currency Division, Managing Director of the Identity Systems business, I travelled to Central Asia, the Middle East, Transcaucasia, the Caribbean, the Balkans, Western Europe and both North and South America. Latterly, eight years in the role of Director of Government Relations presented an unique opportunity to observe the Westminster operation at close hand before it finally descended into its current tragi-comic drama.

Notionally in retirement since 2015, the reality proves otherwise. Accepting an invitation to join the staff of the British Iranian Chamber of Commerce in 2016 when American policy towards Iran had eased, the past year has been spent adjusting to the present US administration’s U- turn.

Apart from a brazen promotion of my own book(s), I hope that this website will also provide the opportunity to share thoughts on others’ books and to invite friends to share their thoughts with me.

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