Is a valuable to METAR, typically for him arrogantly stated despite relying on shakey stilts, but nevertheless highly USEFUL provocative, perspective on the world scene. Well worth it much beyond his normal output.
We have speculated about most aspects of this at various times on this Board, and so please consider this video as a partial recalling of those discussions and help me think this through.
Zeihan writes a nice postmortem but what were the founders of Bretton Woods thinking?
The primary designers of the new system were John Maynard Keynes, adviser to the British Treasury, and Harry Dexter White, the chief international economist at the Treasury Department.
I know nothing about Harry Dexter White but Maynard Keynes was not just an economist but a philosopher forged in the cauldron of the Great War. He foresaw the disaster that the economic policy of the Treaty of Versailles would bring, which he put on paper before it happened.
Bretton Woods was in full force only during 13 years
In 1958, the Bretton Woods system became fully functional as currencies became convertible. Countries settled international balances in dollars, and US dollars were convertible to gold at a fixed exchange rate of $35 an ounce. The United States had the responsibility of keeping the price of gold fixed and had to adjust the supply of dollars to maintain confidence in future gold convertibility. The Bretton Woods system was in place until persistent US balance-of-payments deficits led to foreign-held dollars exceeding the US gold stock, implying that the United States could not fulfill its obligation to redeem dollars for gold at the official price. In 1971, President Richard Nixon ended the dollar’s convertibility to gold
World economics and finance are complex systems. Complex systems generate emergent properties, unpredictable properties. Complex systems don’t have fixed laws like physics had until we discovered quantum physics, Werner Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, proof that we cannot predict the future.
Peter Zeihan just describes some of the emergent properties of the Bretton Woods agreements and gives them fictional, ex post facto intentionality. BTW, very convincingly!