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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.

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Recent Events

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.


Nov 8, 2023

How digitalization can improve climate resilience in the Global South

By Camilla Valente and Saffiyah Coker

Digitalization offers a novel opportunity to build climate resilience if properly supported by the Bretton Woods Institutions.

Economy & Business International Financial Institutions


Oct 27, 2023

The status of labor rights in US trade policy

By Uma Menon

US trade policy can advance labor rights globally through stronger enforcement mechanisms and deeper multilateral collaboration with international organizations.

China Economy & Business
International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva holds up a logo for the 2023 global policy agenda at the start of a news conference during the 2023 Spring Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Washington, U.S., April 13, 2023. REUTERS/Elizabeth Frantz


Sep 19, 2023

How the IMF can make sovereign debt restructuring more effective

By Bruce Shen and Euel Kebebew

In light global debt crisis, the IMF plays crucial role in navigating complexities exacerbated by COVID-19, emphasizing transparency, incentives, and innovative financial tools for effective debt management.

China Economy & Business


Sep 18, 2023

How Germany’s security strategy incorporates economic resilience

By Hung Tran

The National Security Strategy represents a step forward for Germany, but highlights how difficult “integrated security” can be.

China Economy & Business


Aug 25, 2023

Understanding the growing use of local currencies in cross-border payments

By Hung Tran

Local currencies don’t threaten the dollar, but they’re changing how payments are made around the world.

China Economy & Business


Aug 23, 2023

What Brazil’s “multipolar” foreign policy means for the Bretton Woods institutions

By Jack Tapay-Cueva and David Dong

The BWIs must address the evolving attitudes of countries like Brazil to maintain their relevance in an ever-changing global order.

Brazil China


Jul 27, 2023

The G20 still hasn’t made a breakthrough on sovereign debt restructuring

By Hung Tran

The G20’s recent meeting failed to make progress on sovereign debt restructuring, disappointing low and middle-income countries. Zambia’s deal favored China’s preferences, revealing the challenges in establishing an equitable framework for debt relief.

Africa China


Jul 12, 2023

Progress on debt restructuring provides a glimmer of hope for developing countries

By Jeremy Mark and Vasuki Shastry

As government and private-sector creditors finally take steps to restructure debt, questions remain over their readiness to meaningfully reduce debt burdens.

Africa China


Jun 21, 2023

How ESG investing can better serve sustainable development

By Nisha Narayanan

2022 revealed several roadblocks preventing ESG from contributing to sustainable development. To change course, more clarity and agreement from both private data providers and from regulators is necessary.

Economy & Business Financial Regulation

New Atlanticist

Apr 5, 2023

David Malpass on China’s role in the World Bank and how to prevent a ‘lost decade for growth’

By Katherine Walla

The president of the World Bank, speaking at the Atlantic Council as he prepares to hand over the reins to his successor, has one big worry about the global economy: a “reversal in development.” 

Digital Currencies Economy & Business