In the midst of the White Mountains in New Hampshire you will find a big hotel with and amazing setting. It is the Mount Washington Hotel. I can see why people want to stay at this hotel – there are amazing views of the nearby mountain and the hotel is beautiful. But the reason this hotel has a special meaning for me as an economist isn’t the view or the ambience. There is only a very few places where you can say world history has been made which changed the world as we know it for a generation. Right at this hotel they did in fact make world economic history.
The hotel was the location for the Bretton Woods Conference which was held from 1 July till 22 July 1944. The aim of the conference was to lay down the framework for the monetary system after the end of the Second World War. By this time it was judged certain the allied would win so they could consider how to make arrangement for the post war world.
The Americans played host to a gathering of the allied powers to discuss how to arrange the monetary system. The most notable member of the different delegations was Economist John Maynard Keynes – the most famous economist in the world at this time.
The end result of the conference was the establishment of a new monetary system with the dollar as the anchor which would last until 1971. International institutions were founded as a result of this conference. The IMF was decided on this conference and there was talk about a new ITO International Trade Organization. The last couldn’t be decided so the result was only the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade GATT which finally in 1995 were transformed into the World Trade Organization WTO.
There is a small room at the hotel with a display from the conference so you can go inside the nice hotel and have a quick look at this historic meeting.