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World Payments System After World War II

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1 World Payments System After World War II

2 Situation after WWII The Great Depression and the war caused world trade to shrink tremendously. The international gold standard was no longer functioning. So, a new system was necessary.

3 Bretton Woods Before the war came to an end, an international conference was held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire in 1944. From this conference two major institutions emerged: IMF and World Bank (IBRD).

4 Three institutions of world economic order
IMF: smooth functioning of world payments system World Bank: provide long term loans to rebuild Europe (the focus shifted later on to developing countries) GATT: establish free international trading system (evolved into WTO)

5 Elements of an international monetary system
Supply of international liquidity Exchange rate determination system Balance of payments adjustment mechanism

6 International gold standard (1880-1914) , (1930’s)
International liquidity: gold and convertible currencies Exchange rate system: Fixed, the anchor of the system is gold Adjustment mechanism for balance payments disequilibrium: interest rates, capital mobility

7 International gold standard
Adjustment mechanism: interest rates were raised in deficit countries, lowered in surplus countries capital mobility gold did not move much between deficit and surplus countries.

8 Gold standard Was functioning smoothly during 1880-1914.
The system is considered to have contributed to the worsening of depression.

9 Bretton Woods System There were two rival plans prepared for the BW conference: Keynes Plan White Plan The White Plan was accepted, parallel to the rising dominance of the US.

10 Bretton Woods System International liquidity: dollar and gold
Exchange rate system: adjustable peg system Balance of payments adjustment mechanism: unlike gold standard, domestic policy concerns take priority over international adjustment.

11 International liquidity
1 $=1/35 ounces of gold US is the issuer of international liquidity Convertability between the US dollar and gold

12 Exchange rate system Fixed exchange rate system (adjustable peg)
The US dollar is the anchor of the system. 1 $=1/35 ounces of gold All other currencies adjust vis a vis the $

13 Exchange rate system Fixed parities are set with a 1% margin in both directions. If the exchange rate was outside this “band”, then the central bank intervened in the foreign exchnge market.

14 German surplus Germany intervenes: Sell DM, buy $
Shift SDM tothe right German dollar reserves and money supply increase SDM $/DM DDM

15 UK deficit UK intervenes: Buy £, sell $ Shift D£ to the right
UK dollar reserves and money supply decrease $/£

16 BP disequilibrium If the deficit or surplus is chronic, then the exchange rate (peg) needs to be changed. Hence the name “adjustable peg”. This is “devaluation” or “revaluation”.

17 IMF’s role in the system
Provide stable and relatively fixed exchange rates. Provide financing facility in case of balance of payments disequilibrium (deficit). In the gold standard this required capial inflows and higher interest rates.

18 IMF’s role in the system
IMF enabled the member countries to borrow from each other. The resources were the gold and domestic currencies of all the members paid at the time of the establishment of the fund.

19 US in the BW system US was running trade deficits.
Trade deficits were financed by the creation of dollars. If the creation of dollars caused exchange rate disturbances, the other party intervened in the forex market.

20 US in the BW system US deficits were not a problem during the 1950’s because it solved the liquidity problem. World trade grew at a rate of 7% per year, but gold supply grew at a rate of 1 to 1.5%. Dollars substituted for gold.

21 US in the BW system But starting with the 1960’s, a the solution to the liquidity problem created another problem: confidence problem. The value of the dollar was set against gold, and the parity could not be maintained. This is Triffin’s dilemma.

22 Triffin’s Dilemma Robert Triffin Gold and the Dollar Crisis: The Future of Convertibility (1960). Under the Bretton Woods system in which the U.S. dollar was the world’s principal reserve currency (instead of gold, for example), the United States had to create large trade deficits in order to provide the rest of the world with the liquidity required for functioning of the global trading system.

23 Triffin’s Dilemma Triffin wrote, U.S. trade deficits eventually would undermine the foreign exchange value of the dollar because foreign accounts would hold an increasing quantity of dollars.

24 Triffin’s Dilemma Issuing the reserve currency gives domestic policy makers an advantage by making it easier to finance either domestic budget deficits or foreign trade deficits because there always is a ready bidders' market for any financing instruments from that issuer.

25 Problems of the BW system:
Liquidity problem Confidence problem Adjustment problem The first two are related to the Triffin Dilemma. The third problem led to the collapse of the system.

26 Major events in the BW system
1967 devaluation of the pound: suspicion that the fixed exchange rates between key currencies may not be sustained. 1968: major central banks announced that they were not making transaction in gold with private individuals and firms:two tier gold market

27 Major events in the BW system
1970: IMF created a new international resereve asset called SDR (paper gold). 1SDR=1/35 oz gold. IMF created 3.5 billion SDR’s in all member countries accounts. 1971: breaking of the $-gold link. The system collapsed.

28 Adjustment problem Most prominent imbalance in the system was US deficits and German surpluses. Automatic forces were not removing the imbalance. Macro policiy instruments were directed toward internal targets (growth in US, inflation in Germany) rather than external.

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