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Since the mid-twentieth century, global commercial and financial relations and global social policy have been managed through a variety of institutions. Today, these include the World Trade Organization (WTO) and what are popularly called the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs): the International Monetary Fund (IMF or Fund) and the World Bank (Bank) (Deacon, 1999). These institutions, together with an associated system for monetary policy and exchange-rate stability centered on the US dollar's convertibility to gold, are collectively known as the Bretton Woods System. Since this initial dollar-peg system ended in the early 1970s, the term most commonly refers only to the Bank and the Fund, even though the WTO also has its roots in the same conference at which the Bank and the Fund were first proposed, the Bretton Woods Conference.


This material was originally published in The Oxford Companion to International Relations edited by Joel Krieger, and has been reproduced by permission of Oxford University Press For permission to reuse this material, please visit