The End of the Bretton Woods International Monetary System

Working Paper
17-11
October 2017
Photo Credit: 
REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

This paper examines two episodes of international economic policy coordination: the efforts to modify the Bretton Woods international monetary system in the 1960s and early 1970s and to reform the system after the closing of the US official gold window on August 15, 1971. The paper examines the diagnoses of the problem in each episode, the treatments applied, and the results in the short run and longer run. In the short run, both episodes were failures. The international monetary system that emerged in the mid-1970s, while less systemic than some would like, has nevertheless stood the test of time, although proposals for its reform continue to be discussed.