What Did The Bretton Woods Agreement Do

Birgit Pauli-Haack  

As chief international economist at the U.S. Treasury, Harry Dexter White designed the U.S. Cash Access Project in 1942/44, which rivaled Keynes`s plan for the British Treasury. Overall, White`s system tended to favour incentives to create price stability in the world`s economies, while Keynes wanted a system that promoted economic growth. The “collective agreement was a huge international undertaking,” which took two years before the conference to prepare for it. It consisted of numerous bilateral and multilateral meetings to find a common basis for determining the policies that would be behind the Bretton Woods system. Free trade was based on the free convertibility of currencies. Negotiators at the Bretton Woods conference, fresh from what they saw as a disastrous experiment with interest rate volatility in the 1930s, concluded that large currency fluctuations could cripple the free flow of trade. In early 1945, Bernard Baruch described the spirit of Bretton Woods as follows: “If we can put an end to labour subsidies and southerly competition in export markets” and prevent the reconstruction of war machines, “… Oh, my boy, my boy, what long-term prosperity we`re going to have. [20] The United States therefore uses its position of influence to reopen and control the [rules] of the global economy, in order to allow unfettered access to markets and materials of all nations. The agreement did not promote the discipline of the Federal Reserve or the U.S. government. The U.S.

Federal Reserve expressed concern about a rise in the domestic unemployment rate due to the depreciation of the dollar. To undermine the efforts of the Smithsonian Agreement, the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates in order to pursue a pre-domestic policy objective of full national employment. With the Smithsonian agreement, member states expected the dollar to return to the United States, but lower interest rates within the United States have led the U.S. dollar to continue to flow to foreign central banks. The influx of dollars into foreign banks continued the process of monetizing the dollar abroad, beating the objectives of the Smithsonian agreement. As a result, the price of the dollar in the goldless market continued to weigh on its official price; Shortly after the announcement of a 10% devaluation in February 1973, Japan and the EEC countries decided to let their currencies fluctuate.