IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/fip/fedfpr/y2005ifebx7.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Global imbalances and the lessons of Bretton Woods

Author

Listed:
  • Barry Eichengreen

Abstract

An influential school of thought views the current international monetary and financial system as Bretton Woods reborn. Today, like 40 years ago, the international system is composed of a core, which has the exorbitant privilege of issuing the currency used as international reserves, and a periphery, which is committed to export-led growth based on the maintenance of an undervalued exchange rate. In the 1960s, the core was the United States and the periphery was Europe and Japan. Now, with the spread of globalization, there is a new periphery, Asia, but the same old core, the United States, with the same tendency to live beyond its means. This view suggests that the current pattern of international settlements can be maintained indefinitely. The United States can continue running current account deficits because the emerging markets of Asia and Latin America are happy to accumulate dollars. There is no reason why the dollar must fall, since there is no need for balance of payments adjustment; in particular, the Asian countries will resist the appreciation of their currencies against the greenback. I argue that this image of a new Bretton Woods System confuses the incentives that confronted individual countries under Bretton Woods with the incentives that confronted groups of countries. It imagines the existence of a cohesive bloc of countries called the periphery ready and able to act in their collective interest. I argue, to the contrary, that the countries of Asia constituting the new periphery are unlikely to be able to subordinate their individual interest to the collective interest. This image of the current system as Bretton Woods reborn also overlooks how the world has changed since the 1960s. This alternative reading of history and current circumstances suggests that even if there exists today something vaguely resembling the Bretton Woods System, it is not long for this world.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Barry Eichengreen, 2005. "Global imbalances and the lessons of Bretton Woods," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:2005:i:feb:x:7
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.frbsf.org/economics/conferences/0502/Eichengreen.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter Garber, 2004. "The revived Bretton Woods system," International Journal of Finance & Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(4), pages 307-313.
    2. Michael P. Dooley & David Folkerts-Landau & Peter M. Garber, 2005. "An essay on the revived Bretton Woods system," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Feb.
    3. Allan H. Meltzer, 1991. "U.S. policy in the Bretton Woods era," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 54-83.
    4. Peter M. Garber, 1993. "The Collapse of the Bretton Woods Fixed Exchange Rate System," NBER Chapters,in: A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform, pages 461-494 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1998. "Implications of the Great Depression for the Development of the International Monetary System," NBER Chapters,in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 403-454 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Michael D. Bordo & Barry Eichengreen, 1993. "A Retrospective on the Bretton Woods System: Lessons for International Monetary Reform," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number bord93-1, April.
    7. Eichengreen, Barry, 2004. "Chinese Currency Controversies," CEPR Discussion Papers 4375, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Bretton Woods Agreements Act ; Economic development - Pacific Basin;

    JEL classification:

    • F3 - International Economics - - International Finance
    • N0 - Economic History - - General

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:2005:i:feb:x:7. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Research Library). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/frbsfus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.