In the years preceding Bretton Woods, in spite of the very pressing preoccupations that we had, we began to turn our thoughts to the sort of monetary system we wanted to have after the war. So far as I was concerned, the high spot intellectually in the discussions that preceded Bretton Woods was reached at the meetings held in London in 1942 to discuss the Clearing Union proposal. We were worried in Canada about the shape that British economic policy would take after war. We knew that a very influential force in determining that shape would be Keynes. Without much warning, in the spring of 1942, we were confronted with the Clearing Union paper which put the influence of Keynes clearly on the side of multilateralism in which we, of course, on account of our position between Britain and the United States and on account of the structure of our balance of payments, had a very great interest. Keynes was excited by the concept of the Clearing Union. At the discussions he was accompanied by people of similar intellectual stature, like Lionel Robbins. Keynes was very open-minded, and he approached the Clearing Union idea as one that was open for discussion and not as something where he was quite sure that the British were right. I think it would be very difficult to overestimate the importance of the conversion of Keynes to multilateralism. The forces operating on the other side were very strong. If Keynes had not come down on the side of multilateralism we might have had quite a different situation after the war.
KeywordsExchange Rate Executive Director Debtor Country International Development Association Creditor Country
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