1 Introduction and Overview
  • 1 0000000404811396https://isni.org/isni/0000000404811396International Monetary Fund


On July 1–22,1944, delegates from 44 nations met at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to design a framework for future international economic cooperation. Faced with an exceedingly ambitious agenda—to agree on fundamental principles, to design a set of institutions capable of furthering those principles, and to draft the Articles of Agreement to govern those institutions—these delegates managed in just three weeks to realize nearly all of their goals. That “political miracle,” as Richard Gardner calls it (in Chapter 4 of this volume), was all the more remarkable for having been accomplished in the midst of a global war by delegates from countries with broadly diverse experiences and objectives. The design of the Articles was largely the product of the British and U.S. delegations, but many other countries—China, France, and India are prominent examples—put their stamp on the final product. As Jacques Polak—one of several veterans of Bretton Woods who gathered 50 years later in Madrid—noted in a tribute (see Box), for all who were there in 1944 it was one of the most intense experiences, perhaps the defining experience, of their professional lives. And “Bretton Woods” entered the lexicon as a symbol of international economic cooperation and stability.