Bretton Woods Conference and the USSR
This year marks 70 years since 1-22 was held on June 1944 in the United States in Bretton Woods (New Hampshire). United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, which laid the foundation for the post-war world monetary system. The conference was attended by 730 delegates from 44 states, members of the anti-Hitler coalition. The conference was chaired by US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgentau. The United States delegation was led by Harry White, a high-ranking official at the Treasury Department, John M. Keynes, a prominent economist and Treasury official at the Ministry of Finance, the Deputy Foreign Trade Minister M.S. Stepanov, the Chinese delegation - Chiang Kai-shek ...
The tone at the conference was set by the delegations of the United States and Great Britain. G. White and J. Keynes had previously prepared proposals for the post-war structure of the world monetary and financial system. On some issues, the positions of the American and the Englishman coincided, but there were also fundamental differences among them. Keynes proposed the creation of an International Clearing House and the introduction of a supranational monetary unit called “bankor” for settlements between countries, and recommended gold to be rejected as world money. White suggested that the US dollar be used as world money, the US Federal Reserve System has been dealing with the issue of 1914 since. For this, America was ready to provide free exchange of dollars for a yellow metal based on a fixed gold parity. To maintain the balance of payment balances of individual countries and maintain the stability of exchange rates (against the US dollar), it was proposed to create the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which would issue stabilization loans to countries. And to restore the post-war economy, it was proposed to create an International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), which would issue loans and credits for the implementation of investment projects.
The position of the United States won, whose military, political and economic strength played a decisive role in Bretton Woods. By this time, about 70% of the world's gold reserves (without the USSR) were concentrated in the basements of the US treasury.
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The decision on the participation of the USSR in the Bretton Woods Conference was taken by I.V. Stalin. The decision was far from simple. Everyone understood that Washington decided to use the conference to internationally consolidate its financial and economic domination in the post-war world. There was also no doubt that Great Britain at the conference would be forced to cede to the United States - it already had to fight for not losing its colonial system and turning into a second-rate country.
The UN has not yet been created, and Washington has already taken the initiative of calling the meeting at Bretton Woods a United Nations conference. Washington did not doubt that the decisions America needed were made.
Stalin had good (trustful, we can say) relations with US President Franklin Roosevelt. When Stalin held personal meetings with Roosevelt, it was possible to agree on many things. However, there is no indication that Roosevelt was actively involved in the preparation of the Bretton Woods conference. It is believed that the US proposal was prepared by a high-ranking official of the US Treasury (Treasury), Harry White, who was appointed head of the American delegation. The personality of G. White has been studied and discussed for many decades by many economists and historians. There are disputes over whether he was a Soviet agent or not. White D. Reese's biographer mentions White's secret ties with the US Communist Party and even suspects White of spying for the USSR. Defendant Oleg Gordievsky said that White was still in 1935 – 1936. was recruited by the NKVD of the USSR. Apparently, White sympathized with the Soviet Union. He dreamed that the post-war world would be based on stable allied relations between the USA and the USSR. Maybe even contributed to the adoption of some decisions in favor of the Soviet Union (in the Ministry of Finance, he was responsible for international financial cooperation). There is also evidence that White handed over secret documents to Moscow through the mediation of Soviet residency in the United States. The fact that he violated American laws is a proven fact, but whether he was a Soviet agent at the same time remains questionable.
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How much did the White program presented at the Bretton Woods conference take into account the interests of the USSR? In the model of the post-war monetary and financial system of the world, which White successfully pushed through at the conference, the role and place of the Soviet Union clearly did not correspond to its status as a great power. Moreover, being inside such a monetary and financial system, the USSR could very quickly lose this status. The system was American-centric, or more precisely, dollar-centric. The USSR could be in such a system not even as a junior partner of Washington, like the United Kingdom, but only as a second-class country.
Just look at the purely quantitative parameters of this system. Under pressure from the United States at the conference, the following quota and vote layouts for the International Monetary Fund were adopted. The total amount of IMF quotas was determined in the amount of 8,8 billion dollars. This is how these quotas were distributed within the Big Five (billion dollars): US - 2,75; England - 1,3; USSR - 1,2; China - 0,55 and France - 0,45. Each member state of the Fund automatically received 250 votes, plus an additional vote for every 100 thousand dollars of their own quota. As a result, the total number of votes was 99 thousand, where the United States taught 28,0; United Kingdom - 13,4; USSR - 12,0; China - 5,8; France - 4,8%. The three Big Five countries — the United States and their junior partners — the United Kingdom and France — collectively had 46,2% votes. That was more than enough for Washington to take in the IMF any decisions he needed.
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I think that many researchers overestimate the role of G. White in the creation of the post-war monetary system. First of all, because the last word in the US Department of the Treasury did not belong to Harry Hexter White, but to Minister Harry Morgenth, who, being Minister from 1934, was no worse than White, he understood all the intricacies of world finance and controlled the work of the last preparation of American proposals. However, Morgentau was not the last resort. Today, Marriner Eccles is rarely remembered. And this figure is very serious. Like Morgentau, Eccles was at the highest levels of government from 1934, namely, he became chairman of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve System. Morgentau and Eccles worked in the same bundle, only the first left his post in the 1945 year, and the second in the 1948 year. Eccles came to Olympus from the power of business, was a billionaire first row. At the same time, he always remained a little public figure and maintained the closest relations with Wall Street banks, which are the main shareholders of the Fed. That is, the main ideas of the post-war structure of the financial world came from bankers and the Federal Reserve, in other words, from those representatives of the world financial oligarchy who were preparing a project called “The Second World War”. Now they wanted to reap the benefits of this project. As for G. White, he only laid on paper and announced the plans of the bankers for the post-war structure of the world. By the way, President F. Roosevelt was not really allowed to this kitchen.
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I think that the results of the future conference were known to Stalin long before the start of its work. And not even because the program of the American delegation and the draft decisions of the conference were transferred to Moscow. Back in 1943, both Keynes and White quite often and openly expressed their thoughts and suggestions about the future structure of the global financial system. Washington did not make a big secret about his imperial aspirations and plans to turn the dollar into a world currency.
Nevertheless, Stalin decided to participate in the conference of the USSR. First, Stalin expected that America would finally open a second front and would act energetically on the battlefields. Of course, even without America, Hitler's Germany would be crushed, but when the second front was opened, the war could end earlier and the casualties of the Soviet Union would be less. Secondly, the American Lend-Lease program continued to operate, under which the USSR received weapon, equipment, food, other goods. The timing of the program was periodically extended, Stalin expected to continue deliveries. Third, Stalin hoped for help from the United States and at the end of the war. At the end of 1943, a meeting of Stalin and Roosevelt took place in Tehran, at which the latter promised that America would provide a loan to the Soviet Union in the amount of $ 6 billion.
Finally, Stalin was strengthened in his decision to attend the conference in the spring of 1944. In April, Moscow received a secret report from Washington from a Soviet intelligence agent, Donald MacLean (one of the "Cambridge Five"), where he worked as first secretary at the British Embassy. The cryptogram reported that Washington was ready to increase the loan to $ 10 billion. Foreign Commissar Vyacheslav Molotov immediately, through the Soviet ambassador Andrei Gromyko in Washington, informed the US State Department about the readiness of the Soviet side to participate in the conference.
At the conference itself, the Soviet delegation listened more; Anglo-American battles were watched from the sidelines. The head of the delegation, Deputy Commissar for Foreign Trade, MS Stepanov was a little-known person, especially against the backdrop of such figures as John Keynes, Harry White, or Chiang Kai-shek. In the discussions, the Soviet delegation addressed only private issues. The Soviet delegation signed the communiqué of the conference, agreed with all the decisions and politely left the quiet town of Bretton Woods.
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Decisions taken at the conference were to be ratified by the participating countries before the end of 1945. Stalin had no time to thoroughly consider the steps of the USSR after Bretton Woods. All forces were aimed at the victorious conclusion of the war. And life decreed in such a way that Stalin did not have to deal with the problem of ratifying documents related to the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for a particularly long time. In April, 1945, President F. Roosevelt passed away, replaced by G. Truman. The period of allied relations between the USSR and the USA was rather sharply ended. In a short time, these relations turned into a confrontation, the initiator of which was Truman.
In the summer of 1945, Truman announced the termination of the lend-lease program for the Soviet Union. The following year, Washington began to demand from the USSR completely unjustified payments to repay Soviet Lend-Lease debt. The loan in 6 billion dollars, which Roosevelt promised Stalin in Tehran in 1943, was out of the question.
Under new conditions, it became clear to Stalin that membership in the IMF and the IBRD could inflict irreparable damage on the Soviet Union. And in December 1945, Moscow refused to ratify the documents of the Bretton Woods conference.
By the end of 1945, the agreement on the creation of the IMF was ratified by the 29 states, and in March 1946 adopted additional regulations governing the activities of the IMF at the inaugural session of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund. Since 1 March 1947, the Foundation has begun its operations. MBRD began operating in 1946 year.
Subsequent world events, as well as the policies of the IMF and the IBRD, confirmed the correctness of the decision of Stalin, who refused to join these international financial organizations.
- Valentin Katasonov
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