Bretton Woods Conference
John Maynard Keynes was the British representative at the Bretton Wood Conference in 1944 and the one who, together with Harry Dexter White, designed the Bretton Wood system , based on free trade and fixed exchange rates. At the conference, Keynes presented ideas regarding a common currency, bancor , which, however, did not win over. Keynes also turned to 21 of the 45 countries invited by the United States to the conference, as he saw no point in them participating. [ source needed ]
Harry Dexter White
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Harry Dexter White on the left and John Maynard Keynes on the right.
Harry Dexter White , born October 9, 1892 in Boston , Massachusetts , died August 16, 1948 in Fitzwilliam , New Hampshire , was an American economist and senior US Treasury department official . White, along with the British representative John Maynard Keynes, was one of the architects behind the Bretton Woods system and the creation of the IMF and the World Bank .
White was accused on several occasions of acting as a Soviet spy during and after World War II . The information was refuted by some Russian high-ranking intelligence officials, who believed that White did not need to be recruited as a formal agent as he acted out of his own convictions for the benefit of the Soviet Union, including by working for the war between Japan and the United States. The information from the Venona project , intercepted by Soviet espionage telecommunications, which emerged in 1950 after decryption by the NSA , revealed White’s closer cooperation with the Soviet intelligence service. White was also shown to be involved in the Soviet Union receiving banknote plates for unlimited printing of occupation currency in post-war Germany, which contributed toBerlin Crisis 1948 . [ 1 ]
^ Jerold and Leona Schecter Sacred Secrets. How Soviet Intelligence Operations Changed American History ISBN 1-57488-327-5 , ISBN 1-57488-522-7 p.30-35
Bretton Woods conference
White was the senior American official at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, and reportedly dominated the conference and imposed his vision over the objections of John Maynard Keynes, the British representative. Numerous economic historians have concluded that White and the powerful U.S. delegation were wrong in dismissing Keynes’s innovative proposal for a new international unit of currency (the “Bancor”) made up of foreign exchange reserves held by central banks. Benn Steil, in 2013, argued that since 1971, experts have been disillusioned with the 1944 framework. Eric Helleiner, in 2014, argued that the main goal of the United States was to promote international development as an investment in peace, to open the world for cheap imports, and to create new markets for American exports. He argues that policy-makers and analysts from the Southern hemisphere increasingly denounced the Bretton Woods system as “a Northern-dominated arrangement that was ill-suited to their state-led development strategies.” After the war, White was closely involved with setting up what were called the Bretton Woods institutions—the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. These institutions were intended to prevent some of the economic problems that had occurred after World War I. As late as November 1945, White continued to argue for improved relations with the Soviet Union. White later became a director and U.S. representative of the IMF. On June 19, 1947, White abruptly resigned from the International Monetary Fund, vacating his office the same day.
Accusations of espionage
Chambers accusations 1939, 1945, 1948
On September 2, 1939, Assistant Secretary of State and Roosevelt’s adviser on internal security Adolf Berle had a meeting, arranged by journalist Isaac Don Levine, with defecting Soviet agent Whittaker Chambers. In his notes of that meeting, written later that night, Levine listed a series of names, including a “Mr. White”. Berle’s notes of the meeting contain no mention of White. Berle drafted a 4-page memorandum on the information which he then passed to the President, who dismissed the idea of espionage rings in his administration as ‘absurd’. The director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, as late as 1942, also dismissed Chambers’ revelations as ‘history, hypothesis, or deduction.’
On March 20, 1945, State Department security officer Raymond Murphy interviewed Chambers. His notes record that Chambers identified White as “a member at large but rather timid”, who had brought various members of the American communist underground into the Treasury.
In Spring 1948, Truman aide Stephen J. Spingarn questioned Whittaker Chambers, an admitted former Soviet espionage agent, about Harry Dexter White: “Chambers … told me that he didn’t believe Harry White was a Communist; he believed that he was a man who thought he was smarter than the Communists, and he could use them, but really they used him.” Chambers subsequently testified on August 3, 1948, to his association with White in the Communist underground secret apparatus up to 1938. Chambers produced documents he had saved from his days as a courier for the Soviets’ American spy-ring. Among these was a handwritten memorandum that he testified White had given him. The Treasury Department identified this document as containing highly confidential material from the State Department, while the FBI Laboratory established that it was written in White’s handwriting. Chambers stated, however, that White was the least productive of his contacts. Chambers said of White, “His motives always baffled me” (a point later underscored by grandson David Chambers).
Bentley accusations 1945, 1948, 1953
On November 7, 1945, defecting Soviet espionage courier Elizabeth Bentley told investigators of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) that in late 1942 or early 1943 she learned from Soviet spies Nathan Gregory Silvermaster and Ludwig Ullmann that one source of the government documents they were photographing and passing on to her and NKVD spymaster Jacob Golos was Harry Dexter White.
The next day, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover sent a hand-delivered letter to Truman’s Military Aide, Gen. Harry Vaughan, at the White House, reporting information that “a number of persons employed by the government of the United States have been furnishing data and information to persons outside the Federal Government, who are in turn transmitting this information to espionage agents of the Soviet government.” The letter listed a dozen Bentley suspects, the second of whom was Harry Dexter White.
The FBI summarized the Bentley information and in its follow-up investigation on the suspects she named, again including White, in a report entitled ‘Soviet Espionage in the United States’, which was sent to the White House, the Attorney General and the State Department on December 4, 1945. Six weeks later, on January 23, 1946, Truman nominated White as U.S. Director of the International Monetary Fund. The FBI responded with a 28-page memo specifically on White and his contacts, received by the White House on February 4, 1946. White’s nomination was approved by the Senate, acting in ignorance of the allegations against White, on February 6, 1946.
(Six years later, Truman would testify that White had been “separated from the Government service promptly” upon receipt of this information—first from the Treasury, and then from the IMF. In fact, White was still at the IMF on June 19, 1947—more than two years after the FBI had alerted the White House about him—when he abruptly resigned (vacating his office the same day), after Attorney General Tom Clark ordered a Federal grand jury investigation of the Bentley charges.)
On July 31, 1948, Bentley told the House Committee on Un-American Activities that White had been involved in espionage activities on behalf of Soviet Union during World War II, and had passed sensitive Treasury documents to Soviet agents. Bentley said White’s colleagues passed information to her from him. In her 1953 testimony Bentley said that White was responsible for passing Treasury plates for printing Allied military marks in occupied Germany to the Soviets, who thereupon printed currency with abandon, sparking a black market and serious inflation throughout the occupied country, costing the U.S. a quarter of a billion dollars. However the alternative explanation is that Treasury officials feared that denying Soviet use of the plates in their occupation sector would endanger postwar cooperation.
Bentley wrote in her 1951 autobiography that she had been “able through Harry Dexter White to arrange that the United States Treasury Department turn the actual printing plates over to the Russians”. Bentley had not previously mentioned this to the FBI or to any of the committees, grand juries or prosecutors before whom she had testified earlier, and there was no evidence at the time that Bentley had any role in this transfer. Some questioned Harry Dexter White’s role in it. In her 1953 testimony before Joseph McCarthy’s Senate subcommittee, she elaborated, testifying that she was following instructions from NKVD New York rezident Iskhak Abdulovich Akhmerov (who operated under the cover name “Bill”) to pass word through Ludwig Ullmann and Nathan Gregory Silvermaster for White to “put the pressure on for the delivery of the plates to Russia”. This is the only case in which Bentley biographer Kathryn Olmstead concluded that Bentley was lying about her role, citing historian Bruce Craig’s conclusion that “the whole ‘scheme’ was a complete fabrication”. However, Bentley’s testimony would later be corroborated in dramatic fashion by a memorandum found in Soviet archives after half a century. In it, Gaik Ovakimian, head of the American desk of the NKVD (for which Bentley worked), cites a report from New York (where Bentley was based) from April 14, 1944 (when Bentley was running the Silvermaster group) reporting that, “following our instructions” via Silvermaster, White had obtained “the positive decision of the Treasury Department to provide the Soviet side with the plates for engraving German occupation marks”.
Harry Dexter White (October 9, 1892 – August 16, 1948) was an American economist and senior U.S. Treasury department official. Working closely with the Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., he helped set American financial policy toward the Allies of World War II while at the same time he passed numerous secrets to the Soviet Union. He was the senior American official at the 1944 Bretton Woods conference, that established the postwar economic order. He dominated the conference and imposed his vision of post-war financial institutions over the objections of John Maynard Keynes, the British representative. At Bretton Woods, White was a major architect of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank.
White was accused in 1948 of spying for the Soviet Union, which he adamantly denied, and then suddenly died of a heart attack. His guilt was later confirmed by declassified FBI documents related to the interception and decoding of Soviet communications, known as the Venona Project.
This event was recorded at Politics & Prose book store in Washington, D.C. on Sunday, April 21, 2013. For more information, go to:
The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order, by Benn Steil
The July 1944 meeting of representatives from some forty-four countries in New Hampshire laid the foundations of the postwar economic system for years to come. In his deeply researched account, Steil focuses on John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White, showing their ideas and personalities, but also delving into the Anglo-American geopolitical rivalry and laying out White’s engagement with Soviet intelligence.
Bringing to bear new and striking archival evidence, author Benn Steil offers the most compelling portrait yet of the complex and controversial figure of Harry Dexter White in his new book, “The Battle of Bretton Woods: John Maynard Keynes, Harry Dexter White, and the Making of a New World Order.”
1. Introduction: ‘A sisterhood and brotherhood of humanity’
I first want to thank Dr. Ernest Kwamina Addison for his excellent remarks and contributions as Chairman of the IMF’s Board of Governors.
Reflecting on the dramatic change in the world over the last year, I paid a visit to the Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, where 44 men signed our Articles of Agreement in 1944. Our founders faced two massive tasks: to deal with the immediate devastation caused by the War; and to lay the foundation for a more peaceful and prosperous postwar world.
At the conclusion of the conference John Maynard Keynes captured the significance of international cooperation as hope for the world. “If we can continue…The brotherhood of man will have become more than a phrase”, he said.
As we look forward to welcoming Andorra as our 190th member, the work of the IMF is testament to the values of cooperation and solidarity on which a sisterhood and brotherhood of humanity is built.
Today we face a new Bretton Woods “moment.” A pandemic that has already cost more than a million lives. An economic calamity that will make the world economy 4.4 % smaller this year and strip an estimated $11 trillion of output by next year. And untold human desperation in the face of huge disruption and rising poverty for the first time in decades.
Once again, we face two massive tasks: to fight the crisis today— and build a better tomorrow.
The Great Reset certainly is imparting something of an Eastern European Flavour.
Love letter to America anyone?
"The sprightly green, has drunk the Tyrian dye"#Debasement , #Repression . Seeing the Bretton Woods For the (#)(D)isease. #(C)ovidPurpose #ConquestofDough https://t.co/y3hXkyS0In via @rld_real_CPR #IMF #NewBrettonWoods #4IR #GreatReset #CarbonCurrencyEndGame #LoveLettertoAmerica
— RealRLD (@rld_real_CPR) December 6, 2020