Bretton Woods Conference (end of World War 2)
One of the major accomplishments of the Bretton Woods Conference was the plan to link virtually all the world's major currencies to the U.S. dollar in a sort of fixed-exchange system, with the dollar serving as an anchor to global economic activity
The value of the dollar, in turn, would be linked o a fixed amount of gold - one ounce for every thirty five dollars.
The Bretton Woods system allowed countries from Japan to Germany and from France to Brazil to grow and prosper. But when the U.S. began running huge deficits - printing enormous sums of money to pay for everything from Asian wars to Great Society antipoverty programs - the rest of the world began to lose confidence
Abandoning the Gold Standard
In late 1960s, France began losing confidence in the system and started asking for the actual gold that had been backing up the U.S. dollar, and other nations followed the example. Soon, more than half of the U.S. gold reserves had been transferred abroad.
The American government decided that the only solution was to abandon the gold standard. From 1971 onward, the U.S. dollar and virtually all currencies in the world became fiat currencies, backed by nothing than the faith of the people using them.
From that moment on the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates was transformed into a system of freely floating currencies, with their values determined by the foreign exchange markets.