Currency

Episode 553: The Dollar At The Center Of The World

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19 min 58 sec
 
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Economists John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White at the Monetary Conference in 1946. i i
Thomas D. McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty
Economists John Maynard Keynes and Harry Dexter White at the Monetary Conference in 1946.
Thomas D. McAvoy/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

As World War 2 was ending, world leaders realized they had a problem. Countries no longer knew how to trade with each other. Their economies were devastated. So representatives from 44 nations gathered in the small town of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire to come up with the solution.

It came down to two different plans put forward by two very different men. One was the most famous economist in the world. A British aristocrat. The other was an American that no one remembers. But it was the American that won the day and put the U.S. dollar right in the middle of world trade.

Today on the show, how the US won. The story involves a carefully laid trap, late night dancing and copious amounts of alcohol.

Music: Mickey & Sylvia's "Lover Boy." Find us: Twitter/ Facebook/ Spotify. Download the Planet Money iPhone App.

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