A world economy restored: expert consensus and the Anglo-American postwar settlement

G. John Ikenberry
1992 International Organization  
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more » ... ish and American officials debated ideas about postwar order. Some proposals emphasized regional groupings, others sought to reinvigorate colonial empire, and still other proposals, championed by American officials, called for the building of an open international economy based on principles of liberal multilateralism. The most important differences in perspective over postwar order were those between American officials at the State Department, who wanted to reconstruct an open trading system, and British officials in the wartime cabinet, who wanted to ensure full employment and economic stability and were thus contemplating the continuation of the imperial preference system and bilateral trading. One vision was of a nondiscriminatory, multilateral trading system; the other, although not fully articulated, was of preferential economic groupings. Despite their differences, Britain and the United States were able to reach watershed trade and monetary agreements during and after World War II, thereby setting the terms for the reestablishment of an open world economy-an accomplishment that was a bit astonishing given the ravages and dislocations of war and the multiple visions of postwar order. But the new system was different than anything that the capitalist world had seen before. The Anglo-American agreements established rules for a relatively open and multilateral system of trade and payments, but they did so in a way that would reconcile openness and trade expansion with the commitments of national governments to full employment and economic stabilization.
doi:10.1017/s002081830000151x fatcat:c74ntda5e5glldd2nhwdfi6ezi