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.
The third and final keynote speaker was Jacques de Larosière, President of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, former Managing Director of the IMF, and former Governor of the Banque de France. Introducing Mr. de Larosière’s speech on stabilization and reform of the international monetary system was Hans Tietmeyer, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank.
The final afternoon began with a session on the role of IMF surveillance and, more specifically, on the functioning of the international monetary system. Two of the featured speakers had served in the late 1980s as deputies to their country’s finance minister for the international economic cooperation and surveillance activities of the Group of Seven: Canada’s Wendy Dobson and Japan’s Toyoo Gyohten. Ms. Dobson subsequently became Professor of Economics at the University of Toronto and authored a book on international economic cooperation for the Institute for International Economics; Mr. Gyohten became Chairman of the Bank of Tokyo and co-authored a book on international cooperation with Paul Volcker. The third speaker, Jacob Frenkel, participated in the work of the Group of Seven in his capacity as Economic Counsellor and Director of Research at the IMF before leaving that post to become Governor of the Bank of Israel. The session was chaired by Maria Schaumayer, Governor of the Austrian National Bank.
This session brought together a distinguished panel of senior policymakers from different regions of the world to discuss the lessons that had emerged from the conference for the future work of the Bretton Woods institutions. Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor of the Exchequer of the United Kingdom, introduced and moderated the discussion. His opening remarks were followed by statements from the four panelists, each of whom played a key role in major economic transformations in his own country: Kwesi Botchwey, the Minister of Finance of Ghana; Moeen Qureshi, who has served both as a Senior Vice President of the World Bank and as Prime Minister of Pakistan; Leszek Balcerowicz, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of Poland; and Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve System.
The conference concluded with evaluations of the issues by the two heads of the Bretton Woods institutions, along with statements by Jean-Claude Milleron, the Under Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN), who looked at the international agenda from the viewpoint of the UN, and by Pedro Solbes Mira, the Minister of Finance of Spain.
The opening session of the conference was designed to introduce the issues for discussion from the perspective of the institutions and major policymakers. The conference was convened by M. Saifur Rahman, the Minister of Finance of Bangladesh and the 1994 Chairman of the Boards of Governors of the Fund and the World Bank. His statement was followed by those of the heads of the two Bretton Woods institutions: Michel Camdessus, Managing Director of the IMF, and Lewis T. Preston, President of the World Bank Group. The conference was then officially opened by the Prime Minister of Spain, Felipe González.
This session featured two speakers from major countries who have played active and important roles in their countries for many years. The first speaker was Manmohan Singh, the Finance Minister of India and one of the chief architects of India’s recent economic reform program. He was followed by C. Fred Bergsten, the founder and Director of the Institute for International Economics and a former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury Department. After they addressed the global issues affecting the Bretton Woods institutions from their unique perspectives, the Chairman of the session—Lamberto Dini, Minister of the Treasury of Italy—offered an overview and synthesis of the suggestions presented. The speakers then responded to a number of questions and comments raised by other participants.
The first keynote speaker at the conference was A.W. Clausen, the Chairman of BankAmerica Corporation and a former President of the World Bank Group, who was asked to describe his vision of how best to promote economic development. Richard Gardner, the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, opened the session. In addition to being a seasoned diplomat, Ambassador Gardner is also one of the great scholars of the Bretton Woods conference and the world economic order that it produced.
This session brought together a panel of experts who had participated actively in other events analyzing the future agendas of the Bretton Woods institutions to examine the full range of issues affecting the institutions from the perspective of both industrial and developing countries. Professor Gerald K. Helleiner of the University of Toronto has served for several years as Research Coordinator for the Group of Twenty-Four Developing Countries, and he had organized the Group of Twenty-Four conference that was held in Cartagena, Colombia, in April 1994. Professor Peter B. Kenen of Princeton University had helped organize the Institute for International Economics conference held in Washington in May 1994, and he served as a member of the Commission on the Future of the Bretton Woods Institutions. Moisés Naím, Senior Associate of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, had been a featured speaker at both these conferences and a background contributor to the Commission’s report, and brought the perspective of a former trade minister and Executive Director of the World Bank for Venezuela. Chairing the session was Abdlatif Y. Al-Hamad, the Director General and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arab Fund for Economic and Social Development (Kuwait), who had served as Chairman of the Boards of Governors of the World Bank and the Fund in 1982.