随着全球贸易的增长，国际机构需要保持稳定或至少可预测的汇率。但是，自第二次世界大战结束以来，挑战的性质和实现这一挑战所需的战略发生了很大变化 – 即使在20世纪即将结束时，它们仍在继续改变。在第一次世界大战之前，世界经济以黄金标准运作，这意味着每个国家的货币都可以按特定汇率兑换成黄金。这个系统产生了固定的汇率 – 也就是说，每个国家的货币可以按指定的不变利率兑换为对方国家的货币。固定汇率通过消除与波动率相关的不确定性来鼓励世界贸易，但该系统至少有两个缺点。首先，根据黄金标准，各国无法控制自己的货币供应量;相反，每个国家的货币供应量是由用于结算其他国家账户的黄金流量决定的。其次，所有国家的货币政策都受到黄金生产步伐的强烈影响。在19世纪70年代和1880年代，当黄金产量较低时，全世界的货币供应增长过慢，无法跟上经济增长的步伐。结果是通货紧缩或价格下跌。后来，19世纪90年代阿拉斯加和南非的黄金发现导致货币供应迅速增加;这种抵消通货膨胀或价格上涨。
As global trade grows, international institutions need to maintain a stable or at least predictable exchange rate. However, since the end of the Second World War, the nature of the challenge and the strategies needed to achieve it have changed dramatically – even as the end of the 20th century, they continue to change. Before the First World War, the world economy operated on a gold standard, which meant that each country’s currency could be exchanged for gold at a specific exchange rate. This system generates a fixed exchange rate – that is, each country’s currency can be exchanged for the currency of the other country at the specified constant rate. Fixed exchange rates encourage world trade by eliminating uncertainty associated with volatility, but the system has at least two shortcomings. First, according to the gold standard, countries cannot control their money supply; on the contrary, each country’s money supply is determined by the flow of gold used to settle accounts in other countries. Second, monetary policy in all countries is strongly influenced by the pace of gold production. In the 1870s and 1880s, when gold production was low, the world’s money supply grew too slowly to keep up with the pace of economic growth. The result is deflation or falling prices. Later, gold discoveries in Alaska and South Africa in the 1890s led to a rapid increase in the money supply; this offsetting inflation or rising prices.