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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 By means of his unpublished papers and other archival sources, as well as his writings, I shall examine Viner's analysis of the Great Depression, his contribution to the debate over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.

Suggested Citation

  • Sebastiano Nerozzi, 2011. "From the Great Depression to Bretton Woods: Jacob Viner and international monetary stabilization (1930-1945)," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 55-84.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:18:y:2011:i:1:p:55-84
    DOI: 10.1080/09672560903141167
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Great Depression; Gold Stabilization Act; Tripartite Agreement; Bretton Woods; Jacob Viner;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy
    • F55 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - International Institutional Arrangements
    • F59 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - Other
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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