In this paper we analyse why an understanding of the global ‘non-system’, in which we now live, took so long to arrive after the Bretton Woods system collapsed in 1971. We first describe how knowledge of how an inflation-targeting regime would operate—what we call ‘Taylor-rule macroeconomics’—was only gradually created during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. We then describe how, subsequent to this, an awareness emerged, also gradually, of how the international non-system might work, depending, as it does, on Taylor-rule macroeconomics being already in place. We then discuss the Great Moderation, making clear that a well-functioning global non-system would require not just inflation targeting and floating exchange rates in each country, but also adequate fiscal discipline, and a satisfactory form of financial regulation. We describe how a well-functioning version of this global non-system would actually fit together. We then discuss how this non-system has responded to two enormous challenges of the last 15 years, namely the Global Financial Crisis and the Covid pandemic. This discussion of what has happened in the recent past provides the background to a discussion, in the companion paper by Subacchi and Vines in this issue of the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, of the challenges that the global non-system will face in the future.


Vines, D., Subacchi, C., (2024), 'From the Bretton Woods system to the global non-system: the trials and tribulations of slow learning', Oxford Review of Economic https://doi.org/10.1093/oxrep/grad017.
Go to Document