In history, a hegemon is largely associated with the presence of international economic infrastructure. In the 19th century, the British hegemon underwrote the liberal international order in the form of free trade and gold standard. The liberal order was later re-established by the American hegemon, which has overseen the Bretton Woods system from 1945. By contrast, the absence of a leading power is a recipe for disintegration, as illustrated by the economic disorder during the inter-war period. It follows that a hegemon is required to provide the public good of an open, stable international economic order.
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