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Unwitting ArchitectGerman Primacy and the Origins of Neoliberalism$
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Julian Germann

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781503609846

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503609846.001.0001

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Unwinding Bretton Woods

Unwinding Bretton Woods

The Deutsche Mark Float and the Renewal of Stability Politics

(p.79) Chapter 4 Unwinding Bretton Woods
Unwitting Architect

Julian Germann

Stanford University Press

This chapter asks how German policymakers responded to the monetary turbulences that signaled the end of the golden age of capitalism from the mid-1960s onward. To address this question, the chapter challenges the popular view that Bretton Woods died at the hands of a declining US hegemon and zooms in on the actions of its allies: while French attempts to push the US toward monetary reform destroyed the dollar-gold standard as early as March 1968, German efforts to protect themselves from the abuse of dollar seignorage upended the regime of fixed exchange rates three years later. The chapter argues that, unlike elsewhere in the advanced industrialized world, the shift toward floating enabled the German state to double down on price stability and restabilize its embedded liberal compromise—an experience that framed how German policymakers would respond to the wider economic turmoil of the 1970s.

Keywords:   Bretton Woods, embedded liberalism, monetary policy, exchange-rate policy, Germany, Bundesbank, hegemony, monetarism, dollar-gold standard

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