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Three intense weeks at The Mount Washington Hotel in the New Hampshire resort of Bretton Woods (and this, remember, was before the widespread introduction of air conditioning) created the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and a relatively stable system of exchange rates that lasted 30 years.

John Maynard Keynes - the economist who led the British delegation and suffered a minor heart attack racing up the hotel's stairs - added genius and an other-worldly glamour to the mix.

The reason why many reach for the rose-tinted spectacles when recalling Bretton Woods is because it marked a rare moment of...

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