International Organizations and the Analysis of Economic Policy, 1919-1950

By Anthony M. Endres; Grant A. Fleming | Go to book overview

7
International Finance and Exchange
Rate Policy

INTRODUCING NURKSE'S PIVOTAL WORK ON CURRENCIES
AND INFLATION

Modern literature is replete with economic histories documenting international financial “crises, ” causes of crises, and lessons from policy responses with the 1920s and 1930s often given prominence. Studies concentrating on episodes of international monetary reform, the history of international monetary standards, and proposed new monetary orders also abound.1 In all of this literature scant attention has been accorded to the doctrinal development of research work completed within and for international organizations.2 Retrospectives available for the period from 1920 to 1950 are quite specific; they recount proposed arrangements for international economic cooperation and alternative monetary orders – that is, frameworks in which the international monetary system might operate – concentrating exclusively on the minutiae of negotiation over the Bretton Woods agreement in particular (for example, Eichengreen 1994; Gardner 1969; James 1996; Mikesell 1994).

The 1940s was widely conceived as a unique opportunity for reconstructing the international monetary order and gave rise to an array of intellectual constructs significantly different from the Keynes and White Plans – plans forming the basis for discussion at Bretton Woods in 1944 and for the final Bretton Woods agreement.3 In this chapter we examine

____________________
1
For example, Bordo and Schwartz (1999), Eichengreen and Portes (1987), Obstfeld (1995), and Tavlas (1997). On monetary orders past and present see Bordo and Eichengreen (1993), McKinnon (1996), and Schwartz (1987).
2
Rare exceptions are Begg and Wyplosz (1993), Flanders (1989), and Guitián (1993).
3
Some of those proposals are exposited in Halm (1945). J. H. Williams (1943:150) lamented at the time that official preoccupation with the Keynes and White Plans meant “no other plan is likely to get an adequate hearing, ” and a recent celebrated historical overview gives just one unofficial proposal a footnote recognition (Bordo 1993:33 n. 24).

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