EH487      Half Unit
International Economic Institutions since World War I

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Professor Nicholas Crafts, SAR 608


This course is available on the MA Global Studies: A European Perspective, MRes in Quantitative Economic History, MSc in Accounting, Organisations and Institutions, MSc in Economic History, MSc in Economic History (Research), MSc in Global History and MSc in Political Economy of Late Development. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course analyses the evolution since World War II of the roles of international institutions designed to manage world trade and the international monetary system paying particular attention to the IMF, the World Bank, the GATT and WTO. The analysis of the post-war world is set against the background of the trade wars and breakdown of the Gold Standard in the inter-war period prior to the establishment of these institutions.

The approach is chronological with attention being given both to efficiency and equity aspects of the institutional arrangements. Inter-war developments are examined in terms of the absence of co-operation and a hegemonic power with an emphasis on the costs of the Great Depression and the results in terms of the reversal of earlier globalization trends. The Bretton Woods era of a new financial and trading architecture is discussed in terms of an evaluation of the success of the new institutions against the background of their initial job descriptions and of the much better world economic performance in the period. The changing rationales for the IMF and the World Bank and challenges to the GATT in the difficult economic environment of the 1970s and 1980s are examined. The debates of the time and implications for the continuation of the post-war return to globalization are both considered. Finally, the questions of the likelihood and Content of further liberalization of trade and capital flows under WTO and IMF auspices are discussed in the context of an Assessment of what is genuinely new about late 20th compared with late 19th century globalization.


20 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Taught during the LT. 2-hour meetings weekly, with a flexible combination of lectures and seminars in which student papers will be presented and discussed.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce two written papers during the course.

Indicative reading

A Krueger, 'Whither the World Bank and the IMF?', Journal of Economic Literature (1998); O Kirshner (Ed), The Bretton Woods-Gatt System Retrospect and Prospect after 50 Years (1996); B Eichengreen, Globalizing Capital (1996); M Thomas (Ed), The Disintegration of the World Economy between the World Wars (2 vols) (1996); S Ostry, The Post Cold War Trading System (1997); H James, International Monetary Co-operation since Bretton Woods (1996); M Bordo, B Eichengreen & D Irwin, 'Was There Really an Earlier Period of Globalization Comparable to Today?', Brookings Papers on Economic Activity (1999); P Kenen (Ed), Managing the World Economy (1994).


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Teachers' comment

Survey questions on feedback to students may be non-informative because assessed work comes later in the term than the survey.

Key facts

Department: Economic History

Total students 2014/15: 40

Average class size 2014/15: 12

Controlled access 2014/15: Yes

Lecture capture used 2014/15: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Application of numeracy skills
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 88.2%



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