Is there an international monetary system

Quarterly Bulletin 1978 Q2
Published on 01 June 1978

Remarks by Mr C. W McMahon, an Executive Director of the Bank of England, to the Financial Times Conference on World Banking in 1978.

Members of the official international community are much given to talking of 'the international monetary system'. Alternative phrases such as 'the international monetary situation' or 'the present international monetary arrangements' are unattractive to say or to listen to, and are not much favoured. But in using the word 'system' year in, year out, regardless of what is actually going on in the world, we comfort ourselves and flatter reality. Perhaps the little extra reassurance we give ourselves that there is always some underlying order, is harmless enough - heaven knows, we all need a little reassurance. But we do long-run injury both to speech and thought by debasing the idea of an international monetary system. We make it seem an easier thing to achieve than it actually is, so that the breakdown of one system can be thought of as inevitably leading to another.

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