Sunday, April 28, 2013

Harry Dexter White and Capitalism

From the Whittaker Chambers blog:
In the end, it remains difficult to say why Harry Dexter White acted as he did. Why did a Soviet spy construct a system that helped save and indefinitely prolong world capitalism? It is in the nature of espionage that documentation is rare and inaccessible, and witnesses lie. What evidence we have suggests something like the following about White’s career: in 1934, when he was an academic, the US Treasury asked him to report on the problem of a monetary standard. His response already included basics of what became the Bretton Woods system: a case against both the gold standard and floating exchange rates (the latter of which White regarded as practically feasible, but politically unlikely) and a case for the adjustable peg, to be kept in place by an international monetary fund. This report got him a longer term job at the Treasury. Sometime after this, White began passing information to Whittaker Chambers, a GRU agent. One memorandum in White’s handwriting survives, and though it contains little if anything that qualifies as actual confidential information, perhaps other, vanished memos contained secrets for the Soviets. According to Chambers, White was keen also to send the Soviets his plan for monetary reform in the USSR, and the Soviets were eager to have it. (Read entire post.)

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