In July 1944, delegates from forty-four nations gathered in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, to design a postwar international monetary system that would promote world trade, investment, and economic growth. The framers created the International Monetary Fund (IMF or fund) to supervise the new "Bretton Woods monetary regime" that sought to keep national currencies convertible at stable exchange rates and to provide temporary, low-cost financing of balance-of-payments deficits resulting from misaligned exchange rates.
In reality, the framers of the Bretton Woods regime created an international price-fixing arrangement enforced by the IMF. After joining the fund, each member country declared a value for its currency relative to the U.S. dollar. The U.S. Treasury, in turn, tied the dollar to gold by agreeing to buy and sell gold to other governments at $35 an ounce; the inflation of the 1960s, however, made the U.S. commitment to sell gold at that price unsustainable. To preserve U.S. gold reserves, President Richard Nixon closed the gold window in August 1971, effectively uncoupling the dollar from gold and ending the fund's original mission of supervising a system of pegged exchange rates. Looking for a new mission, the IMF quickly evolved into a financial medic for developing countries. Beginning in the early 1970s, the IMF skillfully used a series of global economic crises to increase its capital base and financing activities.
Has the expansion of IMF financing activities alleviated the balance-of-payments problems of member countries and encouraged prudent, progrowth economic policies? The evidence, much of it supplied by the IMF, demonstrates that the fund does more harm than good. Historical studies as well as recent initiatives in Mexico, East Asia, and Russia reveal that IMF financing programs, which rarely prescribe appropriate economic policies or sufficient institutional reforms, are at best ineffective and at worst incentives for imprudent investment and public policy decisions that reduce economic growth, encourage long-term IMF dependency, and create global financial chaos.
It is time to scrap the IMF and strengthen market-based alternatives that would promote an orderly and efficient international monetary system. Key reforms include floating exchange rates, internationally accepted accounting and disclosure practices, unfettered private financial markets, and fundamental legal, political, and constitutional rules that would allow free markets to emerge and countries to achieve self-sustaining economic growth and development.
“God is on the side of the big battalions.” The historical record is opaque about whether it was Napoleon, Turenne, Voltaire, or indeed any identifiable Frenchman who made that statement, but, in this age of supposedly post-industrial warfare, He has apparently changed His mind. Equipped with an iPhone and GPS-guided munitions, God has broken the phalanx, emptied the battlefield, and super-empowered the individual. Mass—particularly the large military formations of the modern era: infantry divisions and corps, aircraft carrier battle groups, tactical air wings—has gone out of style.
As Donald Trump assumes office as the nation’s 45th president, questions swirl regarding the strategic trajectory and alignment of the United States during his administration. Mr. Trump campaigned on a platform of putting “America First,” but the policy details of what exactly this means were, to put it mildly, lacking.
Both in his campaign speeches and in his initial actions after taking office, Donald Trump has made it clear that he aims in his foreign policy to follow the path of dismantling America’s alliance system of turning away an economy that has emphasized globalization to one that is protected by tariffs, and of pursuing what he called one of “America first.” For many Americans, at least to those with some knowledge of the last 75 years, Trump’s direction appears to be a massive break with the past. It is not.
Did FDR use this sweeping body of legislation to gain an electoral advantage?
Congress and the Presidency in the Age of Trump.
Self-government needs the nation-state
Henrik Bering on Never Had It So Good: A History of Britain from Suez to the Beatles by Dominic Sandbrook
Henrik Bering on The Sale of the Late King's Goods: Charles I and His Art Collection by Jerry Brotton.
In this rereleased interview from 1998, Christopher Hitchens, a contributing editor of Vanity Fair magazine, is a self-proclaimed radical. William F. Buckley, Jr., editor-at-large of National Review magazine, is one of the most noted conservatives in the country. During the 1960’s, Hitchens enjoyed the counter-culture, whereas Buckley was one of the founders of the politically conservative counter counter-culture. Thirty years later (1998), and Hitchens and Buckley are still wrangling over the Revolution. (24:52)
Henrik Bering on D-Day: The Battle for Normandy by Antony Beevor.
Rita Koganzon on Benjamin Franklin and the Politics of Improvement by Alan Houston
China has come to Africa. Can U.S. policy makers find ways to mesh, not clash, with Beijing’s interests? By Christopher C. Starling.
A study of two great generals who knew how to keep civilian and military leaders working together. By Colonel Chris Gibson.
When the Soviet Union collapsed, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary made quick transitions to democracy and free markets. Yet Russia itself failed to do so. Why? Hoover fellow Robert Conquest explains, drawing on eight centuries of Russian history and his own lifetime of study.
A symposium with Sen. John Ashcroft, David Blankenhorn, James Dobson, Gov. John Engler, William Galston, Kay James, D. James Kennedy, Rep. Steve Largent, Dan Quayle, Paul Weyrich
Brian C. Anderson on Sartre: The Philosopher of the Twentieth Century by Bernard-Henry Lévy
The Second World War, the Cold War, and now the war on terrorism—all can be seen as part of a single, epochal struggle. Clark S. Judge on the new hundred years’ war.
Damon Linker on Philosophy and Social Hope by Richard Rorty