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Orderly Change

International Monetary Relations since Bretton Woods

David M. (Editor) Andrews

Publication Year: 2008

The Bretton Woods Conference of 1944 resulted in the formation of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and helped lay the foundation for an unprecedented expansion of international commerce. Yet six decades later, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, the central characteristics of the Bretton Woods system remain disputed-and the subject of continuing public policy debate.

Relying on extensive access to IMF, World Bank, and other archives, the contributors to Orderly Change show that the history of international monetary relations since Bretton Woods is one of "orderly change"-that is, change within a sturdy but supple framework. Even during the years of fixed exchange rates, very different practices characterized international monetary relations immediately after World War II, during the 1950s, and during the 1960s. Later, when the fixed exchange-rate system collapsed, underlying commitments to trade liberalization in the context of continuing national economic policy autonomy survived and even flourished. However, the resulting international economic order is now in grave danger: the tension between states' autonomy and their mutual openness has become acute, as international monetary structures no longer appear capable of mediating between these objectives. David M. Andrews and the contributors to Orderly Change examine past transitions as a means of suggesting possible avenues for current and future policymaking.

Published by: Cornell University Press


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pp. 1-2

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. vii-viii


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p. xi-xi

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pp. xi-xii

This project began as musings on periodicity in the Bretton Woods system; but challenged by friends and colleagues to consider the wider implications of this analysis, the project’s trajectory soon changed. Following this new course was richly rewarding. As is often the case with circuitous journeys, along the way we acquired several debts. For my own part, the chief of ...

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pp. 1-5

Few readers of this volume will require convincing of the significance of the Bretton Woods conference of July 1944. Yet bold statements about Bretton Woods, and especially about what eventually became known as the Bretton Woods system, are difficult to sustain. All history is complex, and broad generalizations about almost any topic are subject to exceptions; yet generalizing about the Bretton Woods ...

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Chapter 1. Bretton Woods

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pp. 6-24

July 1944 was an epochal moment in modern economic history. Following the calamities of a global depression and two world wars, the Bretton Woods conference of that month represented the best effort of its generation to provide for shared and lasting prosperity. The immediate aim of the gathering was to realize a durable institutional architecture for global monetary affairs, an architecture ...

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Chapter 2. Trade and Money in the Roosevelt Administration

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pp. 25-35

Between the drafting of the Atlantic Charter in 1941 and the founding of the International Monetary Fund (IMF, or Fund) in 1946, the U.S. government spearheaded international efforts to create a trading system that was reasonably free and nondiscriminatory and a corresponding framework for monetary and financial collaboration intended to bolster those trade arrangements. It was trade, not ...

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Chapter 3. War time Financial Diplomacy and the Transition to the Treasury System, 1939–1947

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pp. 36-51

In 1944, the United States held half of world gold reserves and was the only potential creditor for a plethora of war- ravaged potential borrowers desperate for cash. In the early years after the war, U.S. credit was not made available easily. After an initial period of very hard- line bargaining, however, U.S. financial policy then softened somewhat. The catalyst for this important change was the ...

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Chapter 4. International Liquidity Provision

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pp. 52-77

Revisiting the early history of liquidity provision serves as a useful lens through which we can explore the early division of responsibilities between the International Monetary Fund (IMF, or Fund) and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, or Bank). As I document here, both John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White intended for the IBRD to be given explicit powers to help ...

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Chapter 5. Ambiguous Aspects of Bretton Woods

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pp. 78-99

Between 1950 and 1962, Canada was the only developed country to float its currency against the U.S. dollar, directly contravening commitments articulated in the International Monetary Fund (IMF, or Fund) Articles of Agreement. This experience has usually been relegated to a footnote in histories of the Bretton Woods system; Canada is generally portrayed as a relatively minor player, and the ...

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Chapter 6. Kennedy’s Gold Pledge and the Returnof Central Bank Collaboration

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pp. 100-119

At the end of the 1950s and in the early 1960s, the mix of policies and procedures of the Marshall system was replaced by a new and very different modus operandi. In fact, the emerging system was in many ways the mirror- image of what preceded it: capital became more mobile, fixed exchange- rate schemes became more fragile, and national central banks asserted themselves as important policy ...

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Chapter 7. U.S. Payments Problems and the Kennedy Round of GATT Negotiations, 1961–1967

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pp. 120-138

The U.S. dollar was under considerable pressure when John F. Kennedy entered the White House in January 1961 (see David Andrews, chap. 6 in this volume). Three successive years of large balance- of- payments deficits had resulted in heavy gold losses that threatened the strength of the dollar and, as a consequence, the stability of the entire international monetary system. Kennedy placed the blame for ...

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Chapter 8. Incomes Policies and the U.S. Commitment to Fixed Exchange Rates, 1953–1974

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pp. 139-154

It is sometimes forgotten that the era of full currency convertibility (1959–1971) began and ended with crises over wages and prices in the U.S. steel industry. In 1959, a 116- day U.S. steel strike led to the emergence of a trade deficit in steel, heightening concerns for the balance of payments. The Eisenhower administration viewed the strike as directly threatening the stability of not only the dollar but also ...

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Chapter 9. West German Monetary Policy and the Transition to Flexible Exchange Rates,1969–1973

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pp. 155-176

The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was one of the main pillars of the fixed- but- adjustable exchange rate system that, in its various forms, characterized monetary relations in the Western world after 1945.1 During the 1960s, as the German currency (the deutschemark, or DM) was gaining strength amid increasing capital market deregulation, German monetary authorities went to great lengths to ...

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Chapter 10. Legal Foundations of the U.S. Dollar,1933–1934 and 1971–1978

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pp. 177-188

The history of international monetary relations is partly a story about governments responding to economic and po liti cal pressures and is typically told from this point of view. But it is also a story about the beliefs and practices of people actually using money. While trying to build an international monetary system, governments had to contend with the reality of how their citizens and corporations ...

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Chapter 11. The Institutional Legacy of Bretton Woods

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pp. 189-210

The par value exchange- rate system designed in 1944 ended long ago, but the institutional legacy of Bretton Woods persists. That legacy can perhaps best be traced by examining the core mandate of the International Monetary Fund (IMF,or Fund) as embodied in its surveillance operations. The almost continual adaptation and renewal of this central function of the Fund reflects the conjunction of the...

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Chapter 12. Future Prospects of the Bretton Woods Order

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pp. 211-235

In 1956, Richard Gardner published Sterling- Dollar Diplomacy, his magisterial study of the Anglo- American negotiations for the economic framework of the postwar world.1 In it, Gardner examined in some detail the rationales and strategies of U.S. war time planners, especially with respect to the establishment of international organizations for the promotion and maintenance of multilateral commercial and ...


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pp. 237-245

E-ISBN-13: 9780801458316
Print-ISBN-13: 9780801473999

Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2008

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • International finance -- History -- 20th century.
  • Monetary policy -- History -- 20th century.
  • International economic relations -- History -- 20th century.
  • United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference -- (1944 : -- Bretton Woods, N.H.) -- History.
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