In This Review

International Monetary Cooperation Since Bretton Woods
International Monetary Cooperation Since Bretton Woods
By Harold James
Oxford University Press, 1996, 742 pp.

A fine account of international monetary affairs from the end of the Second World War to the early 1990s. The International Monetary Fund commissioned the study for its 50th anniversary and gave James access to its files and full scholarly independence, and he was also able to consult with many leading participants. The book focuses on the monetary aspects of international relations, with little attention to international trade, bilateral aid, attempts at economic coercion, and the like. It also tends to keep the IMF at center stage, although it also covers events (for example, the 1992 crisis in the European Monetary System) in which the IMF played only a minor role. The book covers the gradual change in many communist countries during the 1980s and early 1990s but only touches on the major transformation to market economies in the 1990s, which represents the most challenging assignment to date for the IMF, including the debt crises of the 1980s. A historian, James is evenhanded and does not typically take sides in the many disagreements that engaged economists and financial officials throughout the period.