Sterling-Dollar Diplomacy: Anglo-American Collaboration in the Reconstruction of Multilateral Trade

By Richard N. Gardner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XIII
SAVANNAH: TWO CONCEPTIONS OF FINANCIAL COLLABORATION

EVEN as the Financial Agreement was making its tortuous way through the American Congress, attention was turning back again from the transitional to the long-term problems. The inaugural meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development was scheduled to take place at Savannah, Georgia, in March 1946. This meeting would test the degree of genuine consensus that had been reached on international financial policy during the Anglo-American negotiations of 1943-44. Keynes assured a friend that Savannah would be 'just a pleasant party'.1 But his preliminary conversations with American officials indicated that some controversial issues were still unresolved. During one of these discussions Keynes expressed anxiety lest a 'decision as to the size of the staff of the Fund should precede determination of its functions'.2 Perhaps, beneath his external optimism, Keynes harboured forebodings of the difficulties to come.


THE ISSUES AT SAVANNAH

At first sight the principal items on the agenda at Savannah seemed innocent enough--the choice of a permanent site for the Fund and Bank and the determination of the functions and salaries of their Executive Directors. But there was a deeper issue behind all of these matters. Were the Fund and Bank purely financial institutions whose direction could be entrusted to a group of international civil servants? Or did their operations have such economic and political implications as to require close control by the member governments? The Articles of Agreement signed at Bretton Woods made no clear choice for either alternative. It remained for Savannah to decide between them.

____________________
1
Harrod, p. 625.
2
Italics supplied. Paraphrase of Keynes's remarks in William L. Tomlinson, Memorandum of Conversation with Lord Keynes on Scheduling the First Meeting of the Board of Governors Under the Bretton Woods Agreements, 19 Jan. 1946, White Papers.

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