Since 1975 the leaders of the major western economies have gathered in annual summit meetings to try to agree a unified response to the main political and economic problems facing them. This book, first published in 1984, traces the development of the summit meetings and tries to assess their impact on western decision-making and international relations in general. The summits arose as the product of a serious crisis that shook the world economy in the early 1970s. They have been sustained because of the waning of the American hegemony that had supported the postwar international economic regime. From this it became vital for the leaders of the major economies to reassert collective leadership in order to try to re-establish a new world economic equilibrium.