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A 'New Bretton Woods': Kaldor and the Antipodean Quest for Global Full Employment


  • Sean Turnell
  • Leanne Ussher


In 1949 Nicholas Kaldor co-authored a report whose recommendations, if implemented, would have revolutionized international economic policy-making. National and International Measures for Full Employment (NIFE) had been commissioned by the United Nations (UN). A capstone to efforts throughout the 1940s to transform international economic policy-making along Keynesian lines, NIFE was without precedent in the importance it accorded global effective demand in determining employment and trade outcomes, and in the commitments it required of governments - not only to their own people, but to other nations as well. For this it earned the enmity of many, including some prominent economists. In the end NIFE fell victim to the independence of nations within the UN and to changing world circumstances; the report was quietly shelved. Today it is little known, and to the extent that NIFE continues to be commented on, its ideas are presented as a step in the progressive shift of focus in Kaldor's thinking from national to global macroeconomics. We argue that, while Kaldor was the principal author of NIFE, credit for this global Keynesian policy must be shared equally with his Australian co-authors.

Suggested Citation

  • Sean Turnell & Leanne Ussher, 2009. "A 'New Bretton Woods': Kaldor and the Antipodean Quest for Global Full Employment," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(3), pages 423-445.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:revpoe:v:21:y:2009:i:3:p:423-445 DOI: 10.1080/09538250903073479

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