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Bretton Woods Agreement

The Bretton Woods Agreement is one of those turning points in the development of modern financial systems, which established the dollar as the standard currency for world trade after World War II. While the Bretton Woods system was demanting during the Nixon administration, the financial institutions created by the Agreement – the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank – remain part of the finances of the 21st century. The Bretton Woods system was put in place as a more stable replacement for the gold standard under which all currencies were converted to gold. Under the new agreement, the dollar was the standard for international transactions, which were valued at one ounce of gold. The fact that the United States held a large portion of the world`s gold reserves allowed the dollar to play its new role as a standard currency on which the stock markets were based. The agreement did not promote the discipline of the Federal Reserve or the U.S. government. The U.S. Federal Reserve expressed concern about a rise in the domestic unemployment rate due to the depreciation of the dollar.

To undermine the efforts of the Smithsonian Agreement, the Federal Reserve lowered interest rates in order to pursue a pre-domestic policy objective of full national employment. With the Smithsonian agreement, member states expected the dollar to return to the United States, but lower interest rates within the United States have led the U.S. dollar to continue to flow to foreign central banks. The influx of dollars into foreign banks continued the process of monetizing the dollar abroad, beating the objectives of the Smithsonian agreement. As a result, the price of the dollar in the goldless market continued to weigh on its official price; Shortly after the announcement of a 10% devaluation in February 1973, Japan and the EEC countries decided to let their currencies fluctuate. This turned out to be the beginning of the collapse of the Bretton Woods system. The end of Bretton Woods was officially ratified by the Jamaican Agreements in 1976. In the early 1980s, all industrialized countries used floating currencies. [44] [45] During the Bretton Woods era, the global economy grew rapidly. Keynesian economic policy has allowed governments to mitigate economic fluctuations and recessions have been generally weak.

However, tensions began to manifest in the 1960s. Persistent, albeit low, global inflation has made the price of gold too low in real terms. A chronic U.S. trade deficit drained U.S. gold reserves, but the idea of devaluing the dollar against gold was strongly opposed. In any event, this would have required an agreement between the surplus countries in order to increase their exchange rates against the dollar in order to obtain the necessary adjustment. Meanwhile, the pace of economic growth has meant that the level of international reserves has generally become insufficient; The invention of the “Special Drawing Right” (SDR)[1] did not solve this problem.

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