Thursday, March 1, 2012

What was really said at Bretton Woods?

What happened at Bretton Woods has been the source of much dispute over the years.  The offspring of this conference include the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank—two organizations that now have a well-earned reputation as the source for cruel and reactionary economic policies.  So the question has been over the years, "Were these nasty little organizations what the founders had in mind?"

My take has always been that Keynes and his allies showed up with some seriously good ideas that were hijacked by the banksters for their own plundering purposes.  Keynes was so distressed by what was happening to his ideas, his weak heart gave out and he died—leaving the field to the knuckle-draggers.

So now they have discovered a faithful transcript of the proceedings.  I wonder how close my version of the events will be compared to what actually happened.

Bretton Woods uncovered (a scoop, of sorts)
By Jeremy Warner   February 23rd, 2012

Students of economic history are in for a treat. An official studying deep in the bowels of the US Treasury library has recently uncovered a prize of truly startling proportions – an 800-plus-page transcript of the Bretton Woods conference in July 1944, the meeting of nations which established the foundations of today's international monetary system.

Bizarrely, this extraordiary manuscript has never before come to light. Professor Steve Hanke of John Hopkins University, whose former student it was who discovered the document, is now dashing to publish it in full in conjunction with his friend, Jacque de Larosiere. The first stage of the process, transcribing the type-written document into digital form is now complete, though it is not yet available. It's hoped eventually to produce a hard-copy, book version.

All previous accounts of Bretton Woods have been second hand, with historians apparently completely unaware that a full, and one must presume faithful, transcript of proceedings, had been taken.

Those who have seen it say it is hard to point to any outright revelation about the talks, in which for Britain, the economist John Maynard Keynes was a leading player. But the level of intellectual debate is said to have been extraordinarily impressive, with exactly the same arguments as to voting rights and undue Western influence at the IMF and World Bank as exist today. The Indian delagation is said to have been particularly outspoken, despite the fact that India was still then a colony of the UK.

It was at Bretton Woods that Keynes identified one of the key problems at the heart of international economics – that imbalances in trade are next to impossible to resolve in a fixed exchange rate system without surplus countries accepting that they have as much of an obligation to do something about them as the offending deficit countries. As the eurozone is demonstrating all over again, the lessons have plainly not be learned. more

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