What is the Bretton Woods 2.0 project?

The Bretton Woods Institutions were created in 1944 in the hopes that stronger international economic coordination would prevent another world war. Today, more than 75 years later, these institutions need to be revitalized and reimagined for a transformed global economy.

In an era of fierce geopolitical rivalries and unprecedented crises at a global scale, there is a profound need for reforms to the world’s monetary and financial system. But how exactly? What would a Bretton Woods system look like if it first emerged today?

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Some of today’s challenges would be familiar to the founders of the Bretton Woods System:  think of the use of trade and tariffs to further geopolitical objects or the debate about international taxation; Some challenges were anticipated back in 1944, including the rise of new economic powers. And some challenges are wholly new; just consider the impact of climate change on the global economy and the proliferation of digital currency. 

Programmatic Review

Governance and parallel institutions: Over the past 75 years the structure of the global economy has gone through major transformations including the rise of new economic powers, the emergence of more than forty regional multilateral development banks and financial institutions, and the rise of state-led international development finance. We will examine potential governance reforms in the Bretton Woods Institutions for them to remain relevant, effective, and efficient in the face of changing realities of the global economy in the 21st century.

Macro-critical global trends: Macro-critical global trends are challenging the capacity and ability of Bretton Woods Institutions to deliver on their mandates. Increasing frequency of extreme weather events, mushrooming sovereign debt, aging population, deteriorating supply chains, and growing food and energy insecurities are some of these trends that are undermining the stability and inclusive growth prospects in the global economy. We will analyze these trends as they relate to global economic governance while also keeping in mind that financial sanctions, industrial policies, and other forms of economic statecraft are becoming more common in today’s global affairs.

Future of money and Fintech: Rapid technological change and continuous emergence of new players and new public and private digital currencies have transformed the global landscape of financial industry. We acknowledge that Bretton Woods Institutions have important roles to play in this front and need to transition from simply reacting to evolving technologies and digital currencies to having a pro-active role in legal, regulatory, as well as technical discussions around these issues.

Non-state and quasi-state actors: Growing number of multinational corporations, especially the big tech, have market caps, revenues, and even earning that are greater than the GDP of majority of countries and are shaping the future of global economy and financial markets. At the same time, more than 130 Sovereign Wealth Funds, controlling $9.6 trillion of assets, and pension and retirement funds with $56 trillion of assets, are the emerging heavyweights in global financial industry. The Bretton Woods 2.0 project will analyze the role of these non-state and quasi-state actors in global economy landscape and what this means for global economic governance and Bretton Woods Institutions.

Featured work and analysis

At the intersection of economics, finance, and foreign policy, the GeoEconomics Center is a translation hub with the goal of helping shape a better global economic future.

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The global community, with the leadership of the IMF and the World Bank, needs to focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. While the population in countries that have moved into the high-income and upper middle-income categories are now aging rapidly, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to one of the world’s youngest population structure. In addition to lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in this region, sustained and inclusive growth over the next two decades in Sub-Saharan Africa could contribute to the growth in the global economy.

Africa Economy & Business

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Keeping everyone in the club: How sanctions complicate the Bretton Woods Institutions’ job

By Mrugank Bhusari, Maia Nikoladze, Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

With a voting majority at the Bretton Woods Institutions, the G7 and EU can collectively ask the institutions to comply with their sanctions. This is complicating the IMF and World Bank’s functions.

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Jun 13, 2022

Quasi-state financial institutions and the Bretton Woods: A case for collaboration?

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

The emergence of new regional entities in global finance means the Bretton Woods Institutions are no longer the sole flag-bearers of economic development and financial stability.

Africa Americas

Econographics

Apr 21, 2022

The North-South divide is growing. Can a new Bretton Woods help?

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

The growing divide is under the scanner as US Treasury Secretary Yellen and Colombian Finance Minister Restrepo both voiced a need to modernize the institutions.

Americas China

Econographics

Apr 12, 2022

Economic and financial multilateralism in disarray 

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

Multilateral development banks and multilateral financial institutions have grown in number. This could be a blessing and a curse.

Africa Americas

Econographics

Apr 11, 2022

“Inequality starts at the top”: Voting reforms in Bretton Woods Institutions

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

Full democratization of BWIs is not realistic. A more pragmatic approach would work towards a “double majority” system.

Africa Americas

Econographics

Apr 11, 2022

Democratic challenges at Bretton Woods Institutions

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

Voting quotas at Bretton Woods Institutions continue reflecting the 1944 power structure, despite significant changes to the global economy.

Africa Americas

Content

Econographics

Aug 12, 2022

Summer reading list: Future of money edition

By Ananya Kumar

These are our top picks for your summer reading list on the future of money: everything from trying to understand the news better to what’s next in the world of innovation.

Digital Currencies Digital Policy

Econographics

Aug 2, 2022

The global slowdown: Why Sub-Saharan Africa is so important

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou and Naomi Aladekoba

The global community, with the leadership of the IMF and the World Bank, needs to focus on Sub-Saharan Africa. While the population in countries that have moved into the high-income and upper middle-income categories are now aging rapidly, Sub-Saharan Africa is home to one of the world’s youngest population structure. In addition to lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in this region, sustained and inclusive growth over the next two decades in Sub-Saharan Africa could contribute to the growth in the global economy.

Africa Economy & Business

Econographics

Jul 28, 2022

Keeping everyone in the club: How sanctions complicate the Bretton Woods Institutions’ job

By Mrugank Bhusari, Maia Nikoladze, Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

With a voting majority at the Bretton Woods Institutions, the G7 and EU can collectively ask the institutions to comply with their sanctions. This is complicating the IMF and World Bank's functions.

Economic Sanctions Economy & Business

Issue Brief

Jun 16, 2022

The Marshall Plan and the Belt and Road Initiative: More differences than similarities

By Sienna Nordquist

This issue brief provides crucial insights as international political and business leaders once again call for a “new Marshall Plan”—this time to rebuild Ukraine should Russian aggression end.

China Economy & Business

Econographics

Jun 13, 2022

Quasi-state financial institutions and the Bretton Woods: A case for collaboration?

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

The emergence of new regional entities in global finance means the Bretton Woods Institutions are no longer the sole flag-bearers of economic development and financial stability.

Africa Americas

Econographics

Apr 21, 2022

The North-South divide is growing. Can a new Bretton Woods help?

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

The growing divide is under the scanner as US Treasury Secretary Yellen and Colombian Finance Minister Restrepo both voiced a need to modernize the institutions.

Americas China

Econographics

Apr 12, 2022

Economic and financial multilateralism in disarray 

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

Multilateral development banks and multilateral financial institutions have grown in number. This could be a blessing and a curse.

Africa Americas

Econographics

Apr 11, 2022

“Inequality starts at the top”: Voting reforms in Bretton Woods Institutions

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

Full democratization of BWIs is not realistic. A more pragmatic approach would work towards a “double majority” system.

Africa Americas

Econographics

Apr 11, 2022

Democratic challenges at Bretton Woods Institutions

By Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou

Voting quotas at Bretton Woods Institutions continue reflecting the 1944 power structure, despite significant changes to the global economy.

Africa Americas