Bretton Woods and International Cooperation

Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, 1905.

THE United Nations won a great if unheralded victory at the Bretton Woods Monetary and Financial Conference. For they took the first, the most vital and the most difficult step toward putting into effect the sort of international economic program which will be necessary for preserving the peace and creating favorable conditions for world prosperity.

International agreements in the monetary and financial field are admittedly hard to reach, since they lie at the very heart of matters affecting the whole complex system of economic relations among nations. It is a familiar fact that in all countries sectional interests are often in conflict with the broader national interests and that these narrow interests are sometimes sufficiently strong to shape international economic policy. It was, therefore, a special source of satisfaction to all the participants in the Conference that agreements were reached covering so wide a range of international monetary and financial problems. This was largely due to long and careful preparation preceding the Conference during which we secured general recognition of the principle of international monetary and financial coöperation.

The Conference of 44 nations prepared Articles of Agreement for establishing the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development to provide the means for consultation and collaboration on international monetary and investment problems. These agreements demonstrate that the United Nations have the willingness and the ability to unite on the most difficult economic issues, issues on which comprehensive agreement had never before been reached even among countries with essentially similar political and economic institutions. The victory was thus all the greater in that the Bretton Woods Agreements were prepared by countries of differing degrees of economic development, with very far from similar economic systems, and will operate not merely in the immediate postwar years, as will UNRRA, but in the longer period ahead.

The hope that the United Nations will not prove a merely temporary wartime coalition which will disintegrate after military victory has thus received substantial reinforcement. No

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