Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



Early in World War II, financial and economic experts of the Allied Nations concluded that if economic health was to return with the peace, the family of nations would have to forego the bad economic manners which had become commonplace between the wars. The conviction that a new and better economic household for the world had to be planned resulted in the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in July, 1944, in which representatives of 44 nations participated.

The Conference met to solve two major problems. The first of these grew out of the chaotic foreign' exchange practices which had characterized the 1930's. The Conference's answer to it was the International Monetary Fund, a new international institution designed to stabilize international exchange, to hasten the removal of artificial barriers to international payments, and to provide short-term foreign exchange assistance to members to overcome temporary disequilibrium in their balance of payments.

The Conference's second problem was to find a way to revive the international capital investment which would be needed to help reconstruct what the war had destroyed and to accelerate an increase in productivity and in living standards in the undeveloped areas of the world. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (popularly known as the World Bank) was designed as the answer to that problem.