J. Burke Knapp Oral History Interviews

Oral History Interview with
J. Burke Knapp

Economist, Federal Reserve Board, 1940-44; adviser on German economic affairs, U.S. Department of State and German Military Government, 1944-45; special assistant to the chairman, Federal Reserve Board, 1945-48; director, Office of Financial and Development Policy, Department of State, 1948-49; economic adviser U.S. delegation to NATO, 1950-51; U.S. president of the Joint Brazil-U.S. Economic Development Commission, 1951-52; and assistant director, economics department, International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, 1950-52, director, Western Hemisphere department, 1952-56, vice president, IBRD, 1956.

Bethesda, Maryland
July 24 and 30, 1975
by Richard D. McKinzie

[Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview conducted for the Harry S. Truman Library. A draft of this transcript was edited by the interviewee but only minor emendations were made; therefore, the reader should remember that this is essentially a transcript of the spoken, rather than the written word.

Numbers appearing in square brackets (ex. [45]) within the transcript indicate the pagination in the original, hardcopy version of the Knapp oral history interview.

This oral history transcript may be read, quoted from, cited, and reproduced for purposes of research. It may not be published in full except by permission of the Harry S. Truman Library.

Opened March, 1980
Harry S. Truman Library
Independence, Missouri

[Top of the Page | Notices and Restrictions | Interview Transcript | List of Subjects Discussed]

Oral History Interview with
J. Burke Knapp

Bethesda, Maryland
July 24, 1975
by Richard D. McKinzie


MCKINZIE:  Mr. Knapp, would you be good enough to talk about your early ideas about Government --your attitude, rationale, and your assignments?

KNAPP:  Well, I'd have to start back a little earlier than that.  Life in the international field really began for me when I went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar in 1933.  I spent three years at Oxford studying politics, economics, and philosophy.  When I was ready to leave in 1936 I had the idea that I would probably go into Foreign Service, although I knew that in those years the opportunities for getting into the


Foreign Service were very restricted.  As it happened, in the summer of 1936 I went to Berlin to the Olympic Games, which I thought I'd take in before I came home.  In Berlin, actually through the intervention of some German and American Rhodes scholars that lived in Berlin at the time, I was recommended for a job with an American banking firm that had a branch in Berlin.  I decided to take a fling at that before I came home; it would give me an opportunity to learn German and some practical financial aspects.  So, I took this job thinking of it as a pretty short term arrangement before coming home and pursuing my career.

This turned out to be a very interesting job, and I decided to stay with it.  I spent just six months in Berlin, then moved to London and went into the City (where I carried an umbrella like everybody else, although I never got around to wearing a bowler hat).  I spent a further


three years in the City of London, which was sort of my indoctrination in international finance, which I have pursued as a career ever since then.

I was with an Anglo-American firm called Brown, Harriman & Co., Ltd.  The managing director of the firm, as he was called, was a fellow by the name of Henry Mann, who was of German origin and had a lot of German connections.  He'd gotten out of Germany very early in the game and set up his headquarters in London.  I owe a great deal to him, as a man of immense integrity, experience, and a real aptitude for the banking business.  I always think of him as my first mentor.

The business that I was in was concentrating on international banking and the underwriting of international bond issues, which was at that time pretty primitive, although it's grown to be a huge business in international


finance now.  This was really a pioneer effort in trying to build up international bond issues.  The conditions were very difficult in Britain in the thirties; there wasn't that much capital and there began to be restrictions on the British capital market for foreign issues.  This made our business somewhat difficult, although we also placed bonds in continental European markets as well as in the British market.

I remember particularly an operation in which we placed bonds of the River Plate Telephone Company, which was a subsidiary of ITT, and sold these bonds all over Europe.  At the time the London market itself was closed to us.  This operation happened to have been quite historic in the history of ITT, because ITT at that time had very large short term debts outstanding in the United States and they were on the point of collapse.  Through our efforts, and on the credit of their Argentine subsidiary, which was one of


the most profitable of their operations, enough money was raised to tide them over the short term cash flow problem that they had at home and keep the ITT empire intact.

MCKINZZE:  Were you aware of Lord Keynes?

KNAPP:  Oh, yes.  My Oxford education in economics was almost pre-Keynesian, Keynes was writing at the time and things were coming out, but of course, he was at Cambridge and not at Oxford.  At Oxford they don't pay much attention to Cambridge economists, so I only really later came to appreciate the values of the Keynesian doctrine.

The war broke up the business that I was in.  When the war broke out in September '39, the British market closed down completely, continental Europe was soon in turmoil, and my job went out from under me.  I came back to the States in January 1940, looking for work.  I talked a little at that time to the State Department, thinking of


the old idea that I might like to go into the Foreign Service.  But with my experience in economics and finance, I thought that I might have a better opportunity in one of the financial agencies.  I shopped around among the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board in Washington and in the Federal Reserve Bank in New York, and, to make a long story short, I ended up by taking a job with the Federal Reserve Board.

As a matter of fact, I got two offers at the time which were both very interesting.  One was from the Federal Reserve Board, which I accepted, and the other was from the Treasury, where I had a long interview at the time with Mr. Harry White, who came later to be known as the real intellectual author of the Bretton Woods institutions.  Harry White was very anxious for me to come to the Treasury, but I finally decided on the Federal Reserve, not really because of any considerations about money or career, but


just because of the people over there.  The people in the Federal Reserve at that time were the chairman, Mr. Marriner Eccles; the head of the research department, as they called it, Dr. [E.A.,] Goldenweiser; the assistant head, Woodlief Thomas; and then the head of the international work, Walter Gardner.  All these men were very outstanding and interesting people, and I'll have a little more to say about some of them later.

So, I ended up taking this job in the Federal Reserve.  They had a personnel form that asked you to specify the lowest salary you'd accept, which I always felt was a kind of a dirty trick.  So, I decided finally that I really wanted this job, and put down $2,500; and that was my starting salary at the Federal Reserve.  Of course, I probably couldn't have gotten more than $3,000 anyway, given the salaries of those days, but I think I probably understated a little my


experience as a graduate in economics from Stanford University, a graduate from Oxford, and four years of practical experience in international finance.

I hadn't been there more than about two or three months when another very interesting proposition came along, which I think is worth mentioning.  This was with the Bank for International Settlements, in Basle, Switzerland.  Its director, Per Jacobsson, later became the head of the Monetary Fund, and he was really an outstanding economist; he had great size, both physically and intellectually.  He came to Washington on a recruitment expedition, wanting to get a young American economist to come and work for the BIS in Basle.  The Federal Reserve in principle was prepared to release me on a sort of loan basis.

I talked to Jacobsson very seriously about it, along in February 1940.  I knew some languages,


had had this European experience, and he thought it would be a very good fit.  They wanted to add some Americans, at least one, to their staff.  I told Per that I was interested in principle, but that I was concerned about what was going to happen to this job in neutral Switzerland if the war heated up and Switzerland became virtually isolated in a belligerent Europe.

This was in February or March.  He said, "Well, we'll fix it for the first of July.  You come to work on the first of July, if we're still in business, so to speak."

Well, then came the events of April and May 1940, the invasion of Belgium, the Netherlands, and then of France; the BIS really went into mothballs for the rest of the war period.  They did a lot of useful research work there, but it wasn't the kind of active life that I had expected and looked for, and so I respectfully declined.

I came to know Per Jacobsson very well


later, when he was the head of the Monetary Fund.  We used to reminisce and talk about what might have been if the BIS had been able to continue its work, or if I'd come there to spend a while in the isolation of Switzerland.

But that didn't work out. Of course, the war clouds began to gather pretty fast over the United States, and my work at the Federal Reserve came to be dominated more and more by wartime considerations.  I really think of my years there as being concerned with wartime finance and postwar planning.

On the subject of wartime finance -- that is to say, the financing of the United States war effort -- I didn't personally have anything to do with it; I was strictly on the international side.  But I learned a lot about it by contact with my colleagues.  The Federal Reserve essentially was called upon to underwrite the war effort, and the budget immediately began to run into huge


deficits as war expenditures began, even as the preparations for war began.  Certainly after Pearl Harbor there were huge deficits in the Federal budget, and they had to be financed in large part by the banking system.  There were the savings bond drives, taxes were increased, and all that, but the huge requirements of the Federal budget required the banking system to move in, to buy war bonds on a vast scale, expand the money supply, and engage in what Marriner Eccles liked to call the "monetization of the public debt."  What this meant was that large public expenditures were financed by the creation of money through the banking system.  The Federal Reserve, which in normal times would be exercising restraints on the supply of money because of the fear of inflation, was turned into a veritable engine of inflation.  It tried to organize this through the banking system, but it had no autonomous power to control events;


it was simply the victim of events, and the money supply was vastly expanded.  The inflationary impact of that expanded money supply was held in check by price controls and wage controls, but when that backed up money supply was let loose, it led to the very serious inflation that followed immediately after the end of the war.

There were two notable personalities that came down to serve as advisers to the Federal Reserve in those days.  One was Alvin Hansen, who was a professor of economics at Harvard University and a great exponent of Keynes.  He was the first Keynesian disciple in the United States, and he wrote and talked a great deal.  He exercised a very powerful influence in Washington, not only in the Federal Reserve but in the Treasury and the White House, in arguing the Keynesian case and how Keynes would have handled a situation such as was confronted during


the war.  Keynes had, indeed, in his writings contemplated exactly the case of war finance.  Then in London he was the principal author of the British system for financing the war effort, which again ran on very similar lines with the monetization of the public debt and the insulation of the consequences through price and wage controls.

The other adviser who spent a lot of time at the Federal Reserve was Gottfried von Haberler, who was probably best known for his work in the international field.  He was one of those very distinguished Austrian economists who came to the New World, to America, and settled down. He is still alive and well at Harvard as a very senior professor of economics.

MCKINZIE:  You mentioned the other aspects of the Federal Reserve, the postwar planning.

KNAPP:  Right.  That gets more into my own particular


work.  With the outbreak of the war or very soon thereafter (and I must say I wasn't responsible for launching this, but I always thought it was a pretty foresighted thing to do), all branches of the U.S. Government were organized to concern themselves with the future occupation of Europe by U.S. forces. Partly these studies were initiated to study what Germany, as the occupying power in Europe, was doing in the occupied countries and in Germany itself.  But it soon

turned in the direction of planning for what was to happen after the war, always on the assumption, which nobody ever doubted or hesitated about, that this was going to be an Allied victory.  The Americans would finally become an occupying power in Europe and they'd have European problems on their hands.

So, the different agencies of Government took over portions of this problem according to their functional responsibilities, and it fell to the


Federal Reserve to prepare studies of the continental European banking systems (somehow we never assumed that Britain was going to be our problem).

At that time there were a great many refugees from the Continent who had come to the United States in one capacity or another.  I was put in charge of a program utilizing them to prepare studies of the European banking and monetary systems, with an eye to turning these into what we called military government handbooks.  These were information manuals that would be put at the disposal of military government as it was set up in the continental European countries.

Here was I, just a youngster.  I did know some languages, which helped, but I was put in charge of a stable of refugee economists and financial experts.  We had Germans, Belgians, French, and Italians, and we were writing all these essays and studies about financial systems


in Europe.  I will say that I think they eventually proved very useful and helpful to military government.

As time went along, I became typed as a fellow that knew about this subject, and I used to go down to the War College in Charlottesville, Virginia, where they had an institute for training officers in military government, to lecture on what the systems were in these countries, and to make suggestions on how they might be administered under a regime of occupation.

MCKINZIE:  Were you aware at the time that they were also studying the whole problem of occupation and postwar developments in the State Department under Leo Pasvolsky and that in fact that Treasury also had something going on?

KNAPP:  Oh, we all were.  As I say, this activity was spread all over Washington among the different functional agencies, and we were


assigned a particular role in banking and currency.  The Treasury was doing studies more about fiscal systems, budgets, taxes, and that sort of thing, but when it came to money then we crossed paths.  At that time a very interesting controversy developed about how the U.S. forces occupying Europe could best pay their way when they invaded a country.

The initial thought was, "Oh, you pay your way in dollars." But then it was said, "Well, that's very dangerous. In the first place, the dollars might fall in the hands of the enemy. Why should we be throwing good dollars into Europe?" I'll say that I was one of the originators of this idea: "Why don't we print currency in the local denominations?"

For example, instead of going into Germany and throwing a lot of dollars around, why not go into Germany and print marks, and call them "occupation marks." Then in the peace treaty


we would require the German Government to accept responsibility for the marks that had been issued and convert them back into regular marks.  This came to be called occupation currency, and there was a great debate about it.

It wasn't particularly a debate between Federal Reserve and Treasury, although the Treasury seemed to lean for a while on the side of using a special dollar currency.  Then they became convinced of the merits of this occupation currency.  In the very first American invasion, which was in North Africa, this occupation currency idea hadn't yet taken hold and the American forces paid their way in dollars.  But they were specially designated dollars with a yellow seal on them instead of a green seal.  The idea was that if the territories were then lost and they fell into the hands of the enemy, these yellow seal dollars could be disowned, repudiated.

As our forces went further, I just don't


remember how extensively occupation currencies, other than occupation marks, were employed. But when it came to Germany, the system that was established was to issue occupation marks.

I might say that that led in turn to a very, very difficult problem -- and I'm getting a little away now from things that I was personally concerned with -- because Germany was occupied not by the Western Powers, but by the Allies including the Soviet Union.  We prepared all these plates for the printing of the occupation marks.  Of course, it made sense for the occupying powers to follow a common policy and to all use the same occupation marks, rather than different brands of occupation marks printed by different countries.  That was easy to agree upon with the British and the French, because there was a unified command and a unified accounting, but then the Russians said, "Okay, where do we come in?"


So, the Russians insisted on getting a supply of these marks, and there was a great battle and a lot of well-founded fears about it.  But the Russians insisted, "We want a supply of these marks, and furthermore, we want a duplicate set of plates that we can print our own supplies on." Like a lot of things that were done during the war in the interest of maintaining the quadripartite occupation and control of Germany, the Russians were finally given plates from which to print these marks.

Well, it had been feared that the Russians would, so to speak, abuse this privilege of printing marks and of course, what they did was to go ahead and print them on a vast scale.  Every Russian soldier that went into Germany had his pockets stuffed with marks with which he could buy up all the gold watches or anything else that they were looking for.  The result was a great outpouring of these occupation marks in the Soviet


zone of occupation.  Of course, the money that was spent in the Soviet zone of occupation just floated over the other areas of occupation, and it meant, in the first place, that the real goods and supplies, such as they were, in the western part of Germany could be bought up by East Germans who had this flood of marks at their disposal.  That caused a drain of supplies into East Germany, but even worse it set the fires of inflation going.  It could have had very serious inflationary consequences if that money had been allowed to be outstanding for very long.

What happened was that within a fairly short period of time, the regular German currency was restored and all that occupation currency was called in.  This was part of what they called the monetary purge of Germany; the old Deutschemarks and the occupation marks were all called in and people were given, in exchange,


only a fraction of the amount they had deposited.  Thus this great surplus of currency that threatened to drive up prices at a terrible rate was immobilized, and the new German currency was issued in amounts which put it on a sound basis.  Indeed the new Deutschemark, right from that time, became one of the hardest and most solid currencies in Europe, later on even in the world.  The German mark today is as strong a currency as it is because those original measures had been taken to restrict its issue to amounts which would establish its real value.

Now, I was also concerned somewhat with the exchange control measures which were introduced in the United States as part of the war regime.  This was a Treasury function, and I was concerned only sometimes in an advisory capacity.  The United States had to introduce exchange control first of all from the point of view of economic warfare -- to seize all enemy


assets in the United States.  And enemy assets were not only German assets; when France was occupied, for example, all French assets were under control of the enemy and they equally had to be immobilized in the United States.  Then there had to be a series of measures introduced to avoid financial manipulation by the enemy in the United States markets, and to control the proceeds of exports to assure that funds paid for exports didn't fall into enemy hands.  Quite a complex mechanism of exchange controls was introduced, many of them based upon the experience of the British, who had had the same problem but two or three years earlier, and who had by that time developed a very sophisticated system of capital and exchange controls.

Pretty early in the game, like about 1943, planning began for the postwar world and the postwar international monetary system, in particular.  This was the pre-Bretton Woods planning,


and here also I played a minor role.  My job in the Fed was still concentrated pretty heavily on postwar planning for military government, and the people who were working on the postwar planning for the international monetary system were the people that I mentioned earlier: Goldenweiser, who was the top economic adviser to the Federal Reserve Board; Woodlief Thomas; and Walter Gardner.  The lead in this field was taken by the Treasury, but the State Department and the Federal Reserve were both considerably involved in it.  The State Department was more concerned with -- they were thinking about the postwar international trade systems commodity systems -- but there was obviously a close relationship between these two.  This was Harry White's heyday, when he was planning an international monetary system based on gold, but with a considerable degree of international management introduced into the gold reserve standard. The


feeling was that the prewar system had shown itself to be very defective; that there had been anarchy in the international monetary system because individual countries pursued their own monetary, fiscal, and economic policies; that it was imperative to have some international coordination of monetary policy; and that in particular the great evil of competitive depreciation in exchange rates had to be brought under control.  The feeling was that during the prewar years, as the world was emerging from the great depression, many countries had played the game of artificially manipulating the exchange rates of their currencies in order to gain advantage in the international market place.  They would depreciate their currencies in order to sell their exports more cheaply in external markets.  Of course, this was a kind of "beggar my neighbor" policy, because, as they depreciated, the countries buying their exports began to run into deficits, and they in turn would try to depreciate.  This


could easily have degenerated into a competitive race, with everybody trying to depreciate against everybody else in order to gain trading advantage.  This was a pretty chaotic system.

So, the basic idea of Harry White was to establish an international mechanism by which countries would consult together with respect to their monetary policies, particularly their exchange rate policies, and to establish an international authority in this field, which subsequently became the International Monetary Fund.  This would be the arbiter of exchange rates and would decide when a country was in such a chronic deficit position that its currency ought to be devalued in order to achieve equilibrium.

Countries would have to come to an international court to get a judgment before they engaged in exchange depreciation.

Of course, a very important question was just how much authority to vest in this central agency.


If you vested sufficient authority in it, it would become in fact an international central bank; monetary policy and exchange rate policy in the individual countries would be subordinated to the will of this central authority.

Well, nobody really pursued the idea to such an extreme, although some people thought that, in setting up the Monetary Fund with limited powers of surveillance, discussion, and debate, it might eventually accrue more and more power to itself and become a really dominant world monetary authority.

MCKINZIE:  Mr. Knapp, do you recall at that time discussions about Lord Keynes' proposal, which vied for a short time?  I think the U.S. Treasury indicated that it was not going to participate in such a program, but was it seriously considered by other people or by yourself?

KNAPP:  Yes, it was very seriously considered and


studied.  The Bretton Woods Conference took place in October 1944, and there was a preliminary meeting at Atlantic City early in '44 or late 1943 where delegations came from the principal countries.  In particular, Keynes came from Britain and White from the United States, championing the respective proposals which they had drawn up and had by that time exchanged.  It was at Atlantic City that the basic decision was made that the White plan rather than the Keynes plan should be pursued.  The Keynes plan was a far simpler and intellectually more satisfying structure for monetary affairs.  He would have created an international currency, which was coined the "Bancor" ("or" for gold, to get a little French in it and to convey the idea that gold was the base of the currency).  This bancor would be issued by an international agency, and countries would have had far more liberal access to this international money than they ever got to the


resources of the International Monetary Fund.

I spoke of the Monetary Fund as being a forum for the discussion and negotiation of exchange rates, but I should also have said that the International Fund, from the beginning, was conceived as a source of credit.  Countries were given drawing rights on the Monetary Fund, which they could exercise by selling their own currencies to the Monetary Fund.  The Monetary Fund was endowed with a massive capital, contributed by all of the countries but mostly in their own currencies.  Of course, the money that was in desperate need all over the world at the time was U.S. dollars.  The idea was that this U.S. dollar contribution could be drawn by other countries from time to time by sale of their own currencies in exchange for dollars.  The Fund would build up stock of currencies other than dollars to that extent.  But all these drawings were to be made under pretty severe


conditions.  They constituted an international line of credit to be dispensed by the authority under pretty strict conditions with respect to the performance of the borrowing countries.

The Americans felt that at least potentially (it would have all depended upon how it was administered) the Keynes plan would provide a far easier source of credit.  This touched on a very critical difference between the United States and the British positions.  The United States view was that if one country had a surplus and another country had a deficit in its balance of payments, it was the responsibility of the deficit country to adjust its position and get out of the hole.  There was no problem with the surplus country; the surplus country was just a godfather that was carrying the other fellow over until he could put his house in order.  So, the deficit country was exhorted to cut down on imports, push up exports, and cut back on the


scale of internal economic development in order to dampen the demand for imports and release commodities for export rather than consumption on the domestic market.

Now, the Keynes approach was fundamentally different.  He said that if there is an imbalance between the surplus country and a deficit country, each of those countries is equally responsible to clear up that situation.  A deficit country has to do a lot of things, but a surplus country has a fundamental obligation to take measures to adjust its position and not force its surplus upon the world.  It ought to, for example, to appreciate its currency, if necessary, in order to make its exports less attractive.  This would also encourage imports by its people.  It ought to adopt an expansive domestic financial and fiscal policy, in order to build up demand and keep some of those goods at home that were being exported and while creating new demands for imports.


I must say that at the time I thought that this was just heresy.  But, of course, we have observed that in recent years, when the United States was in massive deficit and the Germans and the Japanese were in massive surplus, it was the United States that was lecturing the Germans and the Japanese to take expansionary measures to avoid the surpluses they were accumulating.

Another way, of course, that you can remedy a balance of payments situation is for the country that has a surplus to invest that surplus abroad and thereby restore the balance in overall payments.  The shoe has been on the other foot in recent years, and it's been rather amusing to see how the United States' position has changed radically as their economic situation changed.

I was close enough to this Bretton Woods preparatory work that when the Bretton Woods Conference was being organized I was designated to participate.  This was about a year before


Bretton Woods, but we were planning the conference already at that time.  The secretariat for the Conference was primarily a United States secretariat.  At least I don't remember that there were any representatives from other nations; it shows how far the United States dominated the whole scene at the time.

Frank Coe was designated as the secretary of the Conference.  He later came into bad troubles. He was accused of being a Communist agent and, along with Harry White, fell from the scene; in fact, he ended up by going off to live in Communist China.

But he was the general secretary of the Conference, and then under him there was to be a secretary for Committee I, which was concerned with the Monetary Fund;  a secretary for Committee II, which was to consider the World Bank;  and a secretary for Committee III, which was to consider various other subjects that were offshoots of the


Conference.  One of these was to reach agreement on the liquidation of the BIS, the agency that I had almost gone to work for at the beginning of the war.  The BIS, in the American view at the time, was condemned because they had been trading with the enemy during the war.  They were sitting there in Switzerland and had maintained relations with both sides.  As a matter of fact, the reason the BIS had first been created in the twenties was to distribute German reparations to the rest of Europe through the so-called Dawes plan and later the Young plan. And they administered these German monies even during the war; they could hardly not have traded with the enemy unless they were to have abandoned the basic function for which they had been created.  So this was just a kind of political vendetta, but it was pursued very hard by Henry Morgenthau and some of his Treasury associates.  The Federal Reserve always took the view that the BIS should


not be condemned for this, that it was a very useful institution and its integrity should be maintained in the postwar period.  There was even some feeling, I think, in the Treasury that the BIS was a potential rival to the International Monetary Fund and it would be just as well to get rid of this institution lest it impair the workings of the new dream organization, the Monetary Fund.  So, a resolution was proposed by the United States at Bretton Woods to liquidate the BIS, and it was passed under very heavy pressure from the United States.  The United States wasn't even a member of the BIS, which made it all the more extraordinary that they would sponsor and push through such a resolution.  The resolution called for the winding up and extinction of the BIS, but it never happened; the resolution was never carried out.

About a year before the Bretton Woods Conference, in which I had expected to participate,


I was called to the State Department to work on the preparations for military government in Germany.  I wasn't very happy about this, but the call was made in terms of a wartime duty, and I decided to move to the State Department at the end of 1943.  We had people there working on the German-occupied countries, but my assignment was to work on the postwar administration of Germany itself.

MCKINZIE:  Had the handbook been written at that point?

KNAPP:  Yes.  We'd produced our materials and we had put them in the hands of the Department of the Army for use by the military officers who would be concerned with the occupation of, first, the occupied countries, and then of Germany itself.

MCKINZIE:  Did you think at the time that you might go back to the Fed?


KNAPP:  I did think of it and I did do it.

I want to just add a footnote about the Bretton Woods planning and all that.  As I say, I moved out of it about a year before Bretton Woods and at the time the Bretton Woods meeting was being held, I was in the State Department on other business.  However, I took a vacation at that time and took my family up to New England.  I'd been planning to go up to New England anyway, but knowing that this conference was on, I thought it might be fun to go up there and hang around the conference in a purely unofficial capacity.

I wasn't an accredited representative, but I sneaked into a few meetings.  I also used to attend the meetings of "Committee IV."  I said earlier that there were three committees.  Well, "Committee IV" met late at night in the nightclub downstairs in the Bretton Woods Hotel after the agony of the day was over.  (I might say


that the agony of the day sometimes included drafting sessions that ran into all hours of the day and night.)  Usually, if you went along in the evening to "Committee IV," you could pick up the gossip as to what had happened during the day.

And then I wangled an invitation to the final dinner, which was to celebrate the conclusion of this arduous period.  The Conference had been called originally for a week or ten days, and they actually finally took two weeks.  By today's standards, when you have conferences that take literally months and months to produce a major international agreement, it was an incredibly fast piece of work to draw such sweeping and intricate plans for the postwar monetary system in such a short time.