Saturday, October 25, 2008

New Bretton Woods?

Sebastian Mallaby discusses the possibility of a new Bretton Woods agreement. He points out that it will be important how China reacts to the situation:
Today it is the rising power that pursues mercantilist policies via its exchange rate. China's leadership, which sits atop an astonishing $2 trillion in foreign-currency savings, could trade a promise to help recapitalize Western finance for an expanded role within the IMF. But China may simply not be interested. The future of the global monetary system depends on whether China aspires to play the role of Roosevelt -- or whether it prefers to be a modern Churchill.
But I wonder about another problem. The Bretton Woods agreement had the benefit of having the century's greatest economist, John Maynard Keynes, essentially running the show. He led the British delegation. There are plenty of good economists today, but any new agreement is going to be led by Presidents and Prime Ministers. Who will be the Keynes of the new agreement?

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