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The Bretton Woods System: Paradise Lost?

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  • Barry Eichengreen.

Abstract

The Bretton Woods System frequently appears in the scholarly literature as a model for international monetary reform. This paper briefly considers its operation. It argues that the system's principal achievement, the maintenance of stable exchange rates, was product not of the agreement finalized at the Bretton Woods Conference alone but of two exceptional features of the postwar world. One was the limited international mobility of capital. Capital controls provided policymakers room for maneuver; they softened the tradeoff between domestic objectives and defense of the exchange-rate peg. The other was singular scope for growth resulting from postwar reconstruction and catch-up. In these circumstances, countries felt little need to engage in discretionary monetary and fiscal policies that might have undermined the currency peg.
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Suggested Citation

  • Barry Eichengreen., 1994. "The Bretton Woods System: Paradise Lost?," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C94-043, University of California at Berkeley.
  • Handle: RePEc:ucb:calbcd:c94-043
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Eichengreen, Barry & Tobin, James & Wyplosz, Charles, 1995. "Two Cases for Sand in the Wheels of International Finance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 105(428), pages 162-172, January.
    2. Bayoumi, Tamim & Eichengreen, Barry, 1994. "Macroeconomic Adjustment under Bretton Woods and the Post-Bretton-Woods Float: An Impulse-Response Analysis," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 104(425), pages 813-827, July.
    3. Menzie Chinn & Jeffrey Frankel, 1991. "Patterns in Exchange Rate Forecasts for 25 Currencies," NBER Working Papers 3807, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Obstfeld, Maurice, 1986. "Rational and Self-fulfilling Balance-of-Payments Crises," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(1), pages 72-81, March.
    5. Frankel, Jeffrey A., 1994. "The Internalization of Equity Markets: Introduction," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers 233216, University of California-Berkeley, Department of Economics.
    6. James Tobin, 1978. "A Proposal for International Monetary Reform," Eastern Economic Journal, Eastern Economic Association, vol. 4(3-4), pages 153-159, Jul/Oct.
    7. Tamim Bayoumi and Barry Eichengreen., 1994. "The Stability of the Gold Standard and the Evolution of the International Monetary System," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C94-040, University of California at Berkeley.
    8. Robert Aliber, 1978. "The integration of National financial markets: A review of theory and findings," Review of World Economics (Weltwirtschaftliches Archiv), Springer;Institut für Weltwirtschaft (Kiel Institute for the World Economy), vol. 114(3), pages 448-480, September.
    9. Jeffrey A. Frankel., 1994. "The Internationalization of Equity Markets: Introduction," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C94-033, University of California at Berkeley.
    10. Tamim Bayoumi and Barry Eichengreen., 1993. "One Money or Many? On Analyzing the Prospects for Monetary Unification in Various Parts of the World," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-030, University of California at Berkeley.
    11. Flood, Robert P & Garber, Peter M, 1984. "Gold Monetization and Gold Discipline," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 92(1), pages 90-107, February.
    12. Alogoskoufis, George S & Smith, Ron, 1991. "The Phillips Curve, the Persistence of Inflation, and the Lucas Critique: Evidence from Exchange-Rate Regimes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 81(5), pages 1254-1275, December.
    13. Barry Eichengreen and Beth Simmons., 1993. "International Economics and Domestic Politics: Notes on the 1920s," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C93-029, University of California at Berkeley.
    14. Dooley, Michael P & Isard, Peter, 1980. "Capital Controls, Political Risk, and Deviations from Interest-Rate Parity," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(2), pages 370-384, April.
    15. Jeff Frankel, Steve Phillips, and Menzie Chinn., 1992. "Financial and Currency Integration in the European Monetary System: The Statistical Record," Center for International and Development Economics Research (CIDER) Working Papers C92-005, University of California at Berkeley.
    16. Maurice Obstfeld, 1994. "The Logic of Currency Crises," NBER Working Papers 4640, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • F0 - International Economics - - General
    • N0 - Economic History - - General

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