The Legends of Bretton Woods

Did the Bretton Woods monetary system really provide for economic stability and international cooperation over the quarter century following World War II? That is certainly the conventional wisdom among statesmen, foreign-policy analysts, and academics. The institutions and rules established by the 1944 agreements have been hailed as some of the most important economic and even political accomplishments of the cold war era. As a noted historian recently wrote, “Bretton Woods is the most revered name in international monetary history, perhaps in economic history.”

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