Front Matter

Front Matter

International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
February 1996
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Twenty Years of International Monetary Cooperation



J. Keith Horsefield




© 1986 International Monetary Fund

ISBN 0-939934-05-1 (v.I)

ISBN 0-939934-08-6 (set)

Second printing, February 1972

Third printing, May 1981

Fourth printing, March 1986



  • Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, N.H.

  • Inaugural Meeting of Governors, Savannah, Ga., March 1946

  • Camille Gutt, Managing Director, 1946–51

  • Executive Directors, 1946–47

  • Fund and Bank Offices (1946)

  • Ivar Rooth, Managing Director, 1951–56

  • Per Jacobsson, Managing Director, 1956–63

  • Fund Offices (1958)

  • Pierre-Paul Schweitzer, Managing Director, 1963–

  • Fund Offices (1965)


The history of the International Monetary Fund might be written in many ways and from many points of view. Its activities are so interwoven with the international economy that a full appraisal of them would require a comprehensive analysis of the world’s monetary situation since 1945. More, since each member of the Fund is affected to a greater or less degree by its membership, such an appraisal would necessitate a review of the situation in each individual country as well as in the world as a whole. No such compendium is attempted here.

The purpose of this history is much more modest. It is an attempt to recount objectively what were the origins of the Fund and what its plans and activities during the first twenty years of its existence. For this purpose the focus throughout is on the Board of Executive Directors, but without neglecting the work of the Governors on the one hand and that of the staff on the other. The authors have been given full access to the Board’s records and to the complete files of the Fund, and have had a free hand in describing what they found. They have also been able to study many records relating to the origins of the Fund. The result is history written from the inside. It is, however, the personal responsibility of the authors. No statement or opinion expressed here commits the Fund in any way.

The three volumes of this work have different ends in view. Volume I, Chronicle, begins with a description of the plans devised by Mr. White, Lord Keynes, and others, and tries to show how these were consummated at Bretton Woods. Thereafter it attempts to relate straightforwardly what the Fund did in each of the three distinct periods into which its postwar history naturally falls. The main theses are briefly recapitulated in Chapter 23. A supplementary chapter summarizes the most important developments in the period 1966–68, which is not otherwise dealt with. This Chronicle is the work of Mr. J. Keith Horsefield, who was for ten years a member of the Fund’s staff and from 1960 to 1966 its Chief Editor.

Volume II, Analysis, traces separately the evolution of the Fund’s policies in relation to its most important responsibilities. As an aid to understanding the environment in which these policies have been formulated and executed, the chapters in Volume II include some description of the international economy. Since many of the problems with which the Fund has been wrestling have been the subject of debate among economists, some references to these discussions are also included. No detailed attempt is made, however, to take into account the vast volume of technical literature on the topics covered.

The greater part of Volume II was written by Mrs. Margaret G. de Vries, a member of the Fund’s staff from 1946 to 1959. Other contributors were Mr. Horsefield, who also edited the volume, Mr. Joseph Gold, the General Counsel of the Fund, and three former members of the Fund staff, Miss Mary H. Gumbart, Miss Gertrud Lovasy, and Mr. Emil G. Spitzer.

Volume III reproduces the most important documents related to the prehistory of the Fund, as well as pertinent documents published by the Fund between 1946 and the end of 1968.

This history is being made available to the public in the hope that it will enable those interested to understand more of the nature of the Fund’s work, of its problems, and of the techniques which it has devised. Whether the Fund has succeeded or failed in its objectives it is not the purpose of this history to decide. It seeks only to provide information to enable each reader to answer that question for himself.

Pierre-Paul Schweitzer

Managing Director

International Monetary Fund

Preface to Volume I

Part I of this Chronicle, comprising the first five chapters, deals with the plans and negotiations that culminated in the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference at Bretton Woods in July 1944, and with the Conference itself. Readers whose concern is only with the Fund after it was established, and not with these preliminary stages, will nevertheless find certain passages in these chapters helpful to an understanding of the influences which were brought to bear upon the Fund in its early days—in particular the first five sections of Chapter 1 (pp. 3–16); the section headed “U.S. Views on the Keynes Plan” on pages 28–30; the section headed “The Protagonists” on pages 54–57; the final paragraphs of the discussion of “Right to Draw” on pages 75–77; and the three middle sections of Chapter 4 (pp. 81–87). A synopsis of the Articles of Agreement will be found on pages 110–13.

In Parts II, III, and IV of this volume, each chapter is concerned, in principle, with the activities of the Fund from one Annual Meeting to the next—or, as time goes on, with its work in two such twelve-month periods. This arrangement has been preferred to the alternatives of relating each chapter either to the calendar year or to the fiscal year of the Fund, because the Annual Meetings have the advantage of being occasions on which the work of the Fund is traditionally reviewed. Nevertheless, any cutoff date is necessarily artificial, since the Fund’s activities are continuous. Moreover, consideration of many topics recurred on the agenda of the Executive Board over a period of years, and it would often be unhelpful to limit discussion only to that part of the total debate which took place during a single year. In many instances, therefore, the description of the Board’s actions in relation to a given topic has been concentrated in one chapter out of the several to which it would be relevant chronologically.

It should also be understood that only a small selection of the work of the Fund has been dealt with here. In addition to the topics discussed, the Board’s agenda contained a mass of other items. Some of these were of a routine character. Many, however, were important in themselves, though offering no fresh insights into the Fund’s work. All these have perforce been neglected. The reader should therefore bear in mind that when theoretical issues were considered by the Board it was in the context of specific problems not always detailed and against the background of continuous contact between the Fund and its members.

A reader wishing to identify the areas of interest of individual Executive Directors may refer to Appendix A, which lists the countries that appointed or elected them. As an approximation to this identification, the name of each Executive Director, when first mentioned in any section of the history, is followed by the name of his country of origin in parentheses. A similar course has been followed for Alternate Executive Directors, each of whom is also linked, on the first occasion when he is mentioned, to the Executive Director who appointed him.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the following for assistance in the preparation of this volume.

To Her Britannic Majesty’s Treasury and to the Bank of England, for permission to examine their files of material bearing on the Fund for the period 1941–45, and to quote from them; to Mrs. Anne Terry White, for permission to use and to quote from the papers of Harry Dexter White, now on deposit at Princeton University Library; and to Lord Kahn for permission to quote from Lord Keynes’ correspondence.

To Mr. Elting Arnold, Mr. E. M. Bernstein, Mr. Johan W. Beyen, Mr. Henry J. Bittermann, Sir George Bolton, K.C.M.G., Mr. Emilio G. Collado, Mr. Jean de Largentaye, Miss G. A. Koen, Sir Frank Lee, G.C.M.G., Mr. Ansel F. Luxford, Mr. August Maffry, Professor James Meade, Professor Raymond F. Mikesell, Mr. Redvers Opie, Lord Robbins, C.H., Mr. Leroy D. Stinebower, Mr. G. H. Tansley, Professor Jacob Viner, and Mr. George H. Willis, for information freely given in response to inquiries.

To Mr. Allan G. B. Fisher, formerly Chief Editor of the Fund, and to Mr. Lucius P. Thompson-McCausland, for continuous help, comment, and criticism of the drafts.

To present and former Executive Directors and members of the staff of the Fund, who have supplied inside information and corrected many errors.

To the Archivist of the Fund and to the Joint Bank-Fund Librarian, and their staffs, who have greatly facilitated the task of identifying and consulting the relevant documents and books.

To the author’s research assistant, Mrs. Helen G. Burrows, who prepared Appendix A, purged successive drafts of inconsistencies and infelicities, and maintained a constant head of steam for the project throughout its course.

To Mrs. Jane B. Evensen, Assistant Editor of the Fund, for her masterly revision of the final text.

But the author alone is responsible for the obtusenesses and inaccuracies that still remain.

J. K. H.

Abbreviations and Definitions

Annual Meetings, 19—

Annual Meetings of the Boards of Governors of the Fund and the Bank, in the year specified. The Meetings of the two institutions are held at the same time and in the same place, and some of the sessions are held jointly. Other sessions, however, are held separately by the Fund and the Bank. When the term Annual Meeting (in the singular) is used, the reference is to a Meeting of the Fund Governors.

Annual Report, 19—

Annual Report of the Executive Directors for the Fiscal Year Ended April 30, 19—

Articles of Agreement; Articles; Fund Agreement

Articles of Agreement of the International Monetary Fund

Atlantic City

[Site of] meeting of technicians, June 1944, preparatory to Bretton Woods Conference

Bank; World Bank

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development


Bank for International Settlements

Bretton Woods

[Site of] United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, July 1944

Canadian Plan

Tentative Draft Proposals of Canadian Experts for an International Exchange Union


Annual consultations with members by the Executive Board under Article XIV, and parallel consultations with members that have accepted the obligations of Article VIII


Purchase from the Fund by a member of another member’s currency (or other members’ currencies). Amounts are always expressed in U.S. dollars.

E.B. Decision

Decision of the Executive Board. Until Meeting 630 (at the beginning of 1951), the formal decisions and policy actions of the Executive Board were numbered x-y, where x was the number of the meeting and y that of the decision taken at that meeting (e.g., 2-1 was the first decision taken at Executive Board Meeting 2). Beginning with Meeting 630, the decisions were numbered consecutively; thereafter the number was z-(x), where z was the consecutive number of the decision and x that of the meeting (e.g., 7-(648) was the seventh policy decision taken since Meeting 630, and was taken at Meeting 648). From January 1, 1952, the number of the decision has been followed by the last two figures of the year and the number of the meeting in that year in parentheses (e.g., Decision No. 102-(52/11) was the 102nd decision since Meeting 630, and was taken at the eleventh meeting in 1952).


Economic Cooperation Administration (U.S.)


Economic Commission for Europe (UN)


Economic and Social Council (UN)


European Economic Community


European Payments Union


European Recovery Program (U.S.)


Food and Agriculture Organization (UN)

French Plan

Suggestions Regarding International Monetary Relations


General Arrangements to Borrow


General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade

Group of Ten

The countries associated in the General Arrangements to Borrow, viz., Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the United States


International Financial News Survey


International Financial Statistics


International Labor Office


International Trade Organization

Joint Statement

Joint Statement by Experts on the Establishment of an International Monetary Fund

Key-Currency Plan

Professor John H. Williams’ proposals

Keynes Plan

Proposals for an International Clearing Union


Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development


Organization for European Economic Cooperation

Princeton papers

Harry Dexter White papers deposited at Princeton University


Proceedings and Documents of the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, July 1–22, 1944, 2 vols. (Washington, 1948).


Resolution of the Board of Governors of the Fund. Resolutions at the Annual Meetings of Governors are referred to by the number of the Annual Meeting followed by a dash and the number of the resolution. Resolutions passed at the Inaugural Meeting (Savannah, March 1946) are listed as IM-1, etc., those at the First Annual Meeting (Washington, September 1946) as 1-1, and so on. Resolutions passed by Governors between Annual Meetings are given the number of the next succeeding Annual Meeting.


[Site of] Inaugural Meeting of Governors

Selected Decisions

Selected Decisions of the Executive Directors and Selected Documents, 3rd issue, January 1965

Selected Documents

Selected Documents, Board of Governors Inaugural Meeting, Savannah, Ga., March 8 to 18, 1946 (compare Summary Proceedings below)

Summary Proceedings, 19—

Summary Proceedings of the … Annual Meeting of the Board of Governors (issued after each Annual Meeting). In early years Summary Proceedings were really summaries, but latterly most speeches made at the Annual Meetings have been printed in full. In these printed reports Governors are named, but in the records maintained in the Fund’s files they are not, being referred to as “Governor” whether they were in fact Governors, Alternate Governors, or Temporary Alternate Governors. Unless, therefore, the speaker can be identified in other ways, it has been necessary, in those parts of this Chronicle that are drawn from unpublished reports, to cite only “Governor for …”.


Technical Assistance Board (UN)


United Nations


United Nations Conference on Trade and Development

White Plan

Proposals for an International Stabilization Fund

World Bank; Bank

International Bank for Reconstruction and Development

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