By W.M. Scammell
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Extra info for The Stability of the International Monetary System
Between April 1929 and April 1933 over thirty countries left the gold standard. Some countries freed their exchange rates, others stabilised in terms of a key currency such as sterling. The first effect of the gold-standard failure was to divide the world into currency blocs: the sterling bloc;' the gold bloc, a rump of nations still holding to a gold parity (until 1936); some Central European countries, notably Germany, who were to resort increasingly to direct controls on trade and payments ; and the USA, still holding to a dollar parity with gold, and with limited gold-standard appearances in its currency management.
Iv) The Bretton Woods system So much has been written about the Bretton Woods system that we may here be brief. One thing can be certain: its dates. It began with the setting up of the IMF, which began business in March 1947, and it ended with the Nixon measures of August 1971. Thus it endured for a quarter of century, only a decade short of the nineteenth-century gold standard if we date that system from 1870 to 1914. True its longevity was not due entirely to its own merits. A Little History 47 For approximately its first ten years it was supported, indeed almost replaced, by institutional machinery designed to deal with the dollar shortage and the difficulties of transition from war to peace.
Declarations of intent were made at the Brussels and Genoa Conferences but there was no central direction of the transition. The international financial community had been disintegrated by the war. It soon became apparent that the international financial system was not going to slide easily to a self-directing gold stan dard under British hegemony. The rules were different ; even the figures on the international scene were different. Before, it had been central bankers and financial cognoscenti who ruled; now it was governments, represented by officials and politicians who were short on technical expertise but long on chauvinistic selfinterest.
The Stability of the International Monetary System by W.M. Scammell