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Federal Reserve Policy and Bretton Woods

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  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Owen F. Humpage

Abstract

During the Bretton Woods era, balance-of-payments developments, gold losses, and exchange-rate concerns had little influence on Federal Reserve monetary policy, even after 1958 when such issues became critical. The Federal Reserve could largely disregard international considerations because the U.S. Treasury instituted a number of stopgap devices—the gold pool, the general agreement to borrow, capital restraints, sterilized foreign-exchange operations—to shore up the dollar and Bretton Woods. These, however, gave Federal Reserve policymakers the latitude to focus on the domestic objectives and shifted responsibility for international developments to the Treasury. Removing the pressure of international considerations from Federal Reserve policy decisions made it easier for the Federal Reserve to pursue the inflationary policies of the late 1960s and 1970s that ultimate destroyed Bretton Woods. In the end, the Treasury’s stopgap devices, which were intended to support Bretton Woods, contributed to its demise.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Owen F. Humpage, 2014. "Federal Reserve Policy and Bretton Woods," NBER Working Papers 20656, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:20656
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    Cited by:

    1. Owen F. Humpage & Sanchita Mukherjee, 2013. "Even keel and the Great Inflation," Working Papers (Old Series) 1315, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    2. Michael D Bordo & Owen F Humpage & Anna J Schwartz, 2015. "The Evolution of the Federal Reserve Swap Lines since 1962," IMF Economic Review, Palgrave Macmillan;International Monetary Fund, vol. 63(2), pages 353-372, September.
    3. Carlson, Mark & Wheelock, David C., 2018. "Near-money premiums, monetary policy, and the integration of money markets: Lessons from deregulation," Journal of Financial Intermediation, Elsevier, vol. 33(C), pages 16-32.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit
    • N1 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations

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