Economics was far from being a high priority at the Paris peace conference of 1919. The borders of Europe had to be redrawn one by one, and that task alone took up most of the six months of high-level meetings. A means had to be found to pay the costs of the war and the costs of rebuilding, and solving that problem was about all the economics that any of the leaders had the patience for. They created the League of Nations, but its economic functions were poorly defined and never did gel into an effective role.1 They created the International Labour Organization, but its role was specialized and limited.
The world and the IMF have undergone profound changes since the Bretton Woods Conference. James Boughton, former historian of the IMF, looks at key events that have shaped the IMF and the international scene. From the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 to the Great Recession, this essay focuses on 11 events in history that have influenced the design and work of the IMF, as well as the international monetary system. This booklet, prepared for the 70th anniversary of the IMF, is an excerpt from a longer essay that is available on the IMF eLibrary. It is an excellent primer on the motivation behind the founding of the IMF and the evolution of the organization.