Abstract

The organizers of this conference asked me to focus in this paper on three topics: (1) describing the key aspects of the functioning of our present multicurrency international monetary system; (2) providing a framework for assessing the system’s performance; and (3) evaluating the system’s strengths, weaknesses, and potential for change. This is a tall order, and I cannot possibly present a fully comprehensive treatment of these topics, since at a minimum this would require foreknowledge of the outcomes of the discussion of the various major issue areas highlighted in the following sessions of this conference. I shall settle for the more limited objective of presenting what I hope will be useful background analysis for the discussion of these specific issues and for the evaluation of the international monetary system as a whole.