Economics A-Z | Economist.com: "Bretton woods A conference held at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, in 1944, which designed the structure of the international monetary system after the second world war and set up the imf and the world bank. It was agreed that the exchange rates of IMF members would be pegged to the dollar, with a maximum variation of 1% either side of the agreed rate. Rates could be adjusted more sharply only if a country's balance of payments was in fundamental disequilibrium. In August 1971 economic troubles and the cost of financing the Vietnam war led the American president, Richard Nixon, to devalue the dollar. This shattered confidence in the fixed exchange rate system and by 1973 all of the main currencies were floating freely, at rates set mostly by market forces rather than government fiat."
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