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From the Great Depression to Bretton Woods: Jacob Viner and international monetary stabilization (1930-1945)

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  • Sebastiano Nerozzi

Abstract

This paper examines Jacob Viner's contribution to the debate and the policy decision-making concerning international monetary policy from the Great Depression to the Bretton Woods agreements. An outstanding member of the so-called 'early Chicago School of Political Economy', Viner was actively engaged in the debate over the causes and cures of the Depression, emphasizing the important role international economic problems played in producing its onset and in reinforcing its duration. During the 1930s Viner was an outspoken supporter of international monetary cooperation, set up to secure exchange rates stability, which he regarded as a paramount factor in restoring business confidence and fostering recovery. As a close assistant to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr, Viner was able to exert a positive influence on the administration's foreign economic policy, from the Gold Stabilization Act of 1934 to the Tripartite Agreement of 1936. Although not directly involved in the Bretton Woods Conference, he played a role in preparing the ground for the establishment of multilateral agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. By means of his unpublished papers and other archival sources, as well as his writings, I shall examine Viner's analysis of the Great Depression, his contribution to the debate over American foreign economic policy and his work as economic adviser from 1930 to 1945.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Volume (Year): 18 (2011)
Issue (Month): 1 ()
Pages: 55-84

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Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:18:y:2011:i:1:p:55-84

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Keywords: Great Depression; Gold Stabilization Act; Tripartite Agreement; Bretton Woods; Jacob Viner;

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  1. Eugene Rotwein, 1983. "Jacob Viner and the Chicago Tradition," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 265-280, Summer.
  2. Choudhri, Ehsan U & Kochin, Levis A, 1980. "The Exchange Rate and the International Transmission of Business Cycle Disturbances: Some Evidence from the Great Depression," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 12(4), pages 565-74, November.
  3. de Cecco Marcello, 2001. "John Maynard Keynes," Rivista di storia economica, Società editrice il Mulino, issue 3, pages 373-384.
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  12. Sebastiano Nerozzi, 2007. "Building up a multilateral strategy for the United States: Alvin Hansen, Jacob Viner and the Council on Foreign Relations (1939-1945)," Working Papers - Economics wp2007_08, Universita' degli Studi di Firenze, Dipartimento di Scienze per l'Economia e l'Impresa.
  13. Christina D. Romer, 1993. "The Nation in Depression," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 7(2), pages 19-39, Spring.
  14. Ben Bemanke & Harold James, 1991. "The Gold Standard, Deflation, and Financial Crisis in the Great Depression: An International Comparison," NBER Chapters, in: Financial Markets and Financial Crises, pages 33-68 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Boughton, James M., 2004. "New Light on Harry Dexter White," Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Cambridge University Press, vol. 26(02), pages 179-195, June.
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  18. Michael D. Bordo, 1992. "The Bretton Woods International Monetary System: An Historical Overview," NBER Working Papers 4033, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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