Brief Overview

The Bretton Woods Project was based on a meeting held in 1944 at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. This meeting between delegates from 44 nations was held with the hopes of establishing an agreement on a post-second world war international monetary system of "convertible currencies, fixed exchange rates and free trade"(1).

Formal Definition

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Detailed Description


In order to establish the economic 'new world order', four Bretton Woods Institutions were created, two of which still play a prominent role in international trade today: the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (now the World Bank) and the International Monetary fund (IMF)[2]. The initial purpose of these institutions was to distribute the benefits of this economic reform internationally, as it was felt that "property was the surest route to social stability and international co-operation"[2]

A product of the Bretton Woods project was the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (now the World Trade Organization)in 1947, an agreement designed to "provide an international forum that encouraged free trade between member states by regulating and reducing tariffs on traded goods and by providing a common mechanism for resolving trade disputes"[3].

Concerns over the initial fixing of exchange rates were expressed as it was felt that this system did not allow countries enough freedom to pursue their own monetary and fiscal policies [1]. Thus, in the early 1970's, a switch was made to floating exchange rates.

Present Today, the Bretton Woods project boasts itself to be a "networker, information-provide, media informant and watchdog to scrutinize and influence the World Bank and International Monetary Fund"[4]. The World Bank and IMF now encourage the international economy by monitoring and adjusting exchange rates and overseeing international economic relations.

Recommended Reading

[1]Government of Canada: 1944 – Bretton Woods Agreement: Developing a New International Monetary System[1]

[2] Bhattacharyya, G. (2005) Traffick: The illicit movement of people and things. London: Pluto Press

[3] Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)Thematic Guide:General Agreement on Tariffs And Trade [2]

[4] Bretton Woods Project: What is the Bretton Woods Project[3]

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