How the U.S. dollar became the world's reserve currency : Planet Money After World War II devastated the global economy, there was a push for a new universal currency. This is the story of how the U.S. dollar won. | Subscribe to our weekly newsletter here.

The dollar at the center of the world (Classic)

The dollar at the center of the world (Classic)

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English economist John Maynard Keynes attends the United Nations International Monetary and Financial Conference at the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire. Hulton Archive/Getty Images hide caption

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

English economist John Maynard Keynes attends the United Nations International Monetary and Financial Conference at the Mount Washington Hotel in New Hampshire.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Note: This episode originally ran in 2014.

As World War II 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 U.S. won. The story involves a carefully laid trap, late night dancing and copious amounts of alcohol.

Music: "Cool Down" and "Je Suis Juste Un Bad Boy."

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