THE PURPOSE of this book is to explain the importance of the International Monetary Fund and to review the discussion which led to the Agreement of Bretton Woods. Rather than limit the investigation to a commentary on details of the proposed international organization, I have tried to contrast the Agreement with the earlier plans (particularly the Keynes Plan) and the alternatives offered by writers who were not willing to compromise.
While working on this book, my conviction grew that acceptance of the Fund proposal is the only practical way back to multilateral clearing. I hope that this book will convince others.
The field of international economics is full of unintelligible complexities for the layman. While I have tried to be as elementary as possible, I could not, of course, oversimplify the issues involved. To do so would have meant to give no explanation at all. But I trust that a patient and careful reader does not have to be an economist to understand the gist of the argument. For some of my fellow economists the book may be helpful because it summarizes a discussion and interprets documents with which they might not have been able to acquaint themselves in these hectic days.
It is hoped that the main documents appended will be found useful. To readers who cannot devote much time to the study of these plans I recommend the reading of the Joint Statement (Appendix III) which contains a concise formulation of the purposes and the structure of the International Monetary Fund. The Joint Statement has, however, been amended at Bretton Woods and cannot be depended upon in matters of detail.
I am greatly indebted to Professors Edward M. Bernstein, Gottfried von Haberler, Ervin P. Hexner, Albert E. Irving, Lewis F. Manly, and to Dr. Theodore Morgan for many valuable criticisms and suggestions, to Mr. Carmon M. Elliott for his faithful help with the first draft of the book, and to Miss Sina Spiker for seeing it through the press. I am particularly