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The IMF and the Bretton Woods Agreements

The international financial system has been radically altered since the worldwide depression of the late 1920's and early 1930's. This change is due in large part to the inception of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and its subsequent control over the international financial system. In this paper I will examine the extensive role of the Bretton Woods system of exchange rates and the gold standard. Additionally, I will examine the role that the IMF has taken on since the demise of the gold standard.
To begin, we must examine the circumstances that surround the creation of the IMF, who the actors are and what each of their roles are as member countries. The IMF was created as a result of the worldwide market collapse that took place initially in October of 1929. The domino effect that took place when thefirst market crashed was seen to be a situation so severe that world powers felt that drastic measures needed to be taken to ensure that this was the last global financial crisis that the world would face. Its creation in 1944 was the beginning of a new era for the international financial system.
The creation of the IMF occurred at Bretton Woods along with the World Bank and the system of fixed exchange rates and the gold standard for currency. Under this system, the US dollar was tied to gold by a United States government commitment to buy it at $35.00 and ounce and sell to central banks at the same price (excluding handling and other charges). Other participating countries maintained the exchange values of their currencies at prices which were almost fixed in terms of the dollar (the values fluctuate normally not more than one percent on either side of their parities), with the result that exchange rates were almost universally fixed. Other governments carried out their commitments by selling internationally acceptable liquid resources when there was an excess demand for foreign currencies in terms of their own curr…

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