cover image: Moving to Complexity


Moving to Complexity

3 Jun 2024

As the IMF turns 80, its history holds lessons for future international risk management The 1944 United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, held in July of that year at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, holds out a powerful narrative about how countries may tackle global collective challenges. It stands as the opening of a novel epoch in world history, an age of sustained recovery, widespread prosperity, dynamic growth, crisis-free development, and political stability. Bretton Woods still inspires. Policymakers and academics alike regularly attempt to revive, reinvent, or recast it. The conference was underpinned, first, by a big political vision of how-as US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau Jr. put it-prosperity and peace are indivisible. Neither could be managed separately from the other. This message came at a time when the whole world was consumed by war: the Second World War was much more genuinely global than the First. The push for a new world order drew lessons from the war: how murderous conflict had been the product of the global economic collapse, the Great Depression; the ensuing political radicalization; and the disintegration of world order into competing blocs.


Harold James

Published in
United States of America