A New Bretton Woods: the International System in Historical Perspective

In October 2020, taking stock of the world’s various economic and political challenges, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva called for a “new Bretton Woods moment.”

Yet before we seize this new Bretton Woods moment, we must first understand it: what Bretton Woods was, what preceded it, how it evolved, and how it fell. We must also think more critically, in broader historical and global perspective, about how the international system has been designed and redesigned, as well as for whom and for what interests it has worked—and for whom and for what interests it has not.

Drawing lessons from the history of global governance and global economic governance, the discussion will cover everything from integrating a rising power (i.e. China) into an existing and ill-fitting international system, how to account for and reverse the shortcomings of international organisations throughout the Global South, how to manage a global economy at war, how to establish a peaceful and durable post-war settlement, and more.


This webinar was held on Tuesday 31 May 2022.

Meet the speakers

Margaret MacMillan is Emeritus Professor of International History at the University of Oxford and former Warden of St Antony’s College, University of Oxford. She specializes in the history of the British Empire and the international history of the 19th and 20th centuries. Margaret was appointed LSE IDEAS Engelsberg Chair in History and International Affairs in September 2021.

Professor Ngaire Woods is the founding Dean of the Blavatnik School of Government and Professor of Global Economic Governance at Oxford University. Her research focuses on how to enhance the governance of organisations, the challenges of globalisation, global development, and the role of international institutions and global economic governance.

Rana Mitter is Director of the University China Centre and Professor of the History and Politics of Modern China at St Cross College at Oxford University. His work focuses on the emergence of nationalism in modern China, both in the early twentieth century and in the present era. China has always drawn on its past to draw lessons for the contemporary political scene; he believe that to help us understand the new China, we must look at its past.

Andrés Velasco is the Dean of the School of Public Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2017-18 he was a member of the G20 Eminent Persons Group. During 2015-16 he co-chaired the Global Panel on the Future of the Multilateral Lending Institutions. Mr. Velasco was a presidential candidate in Chile in 2013. He also was the Minister of Finance of Chile between March 2006 and March 2010.

Chris Alden is Director of LSE IDEAS and Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics and Political Science.