2018/09/07: The true story of how the City of London invented offshore banking: and set the rich free
Countries that were once democracies are becoming plutocracies; plutocracies are becoming oligarchies; oligarchies are becoming kleptocracies.
In the years after WWI, money flowed between countries pretty much however its owners wished, destabilising currencies and economies in pursuit of profit.
Many of the wealthy grew wealthier even while economies fell apart. The chaos led to the election of extremist governments in Germany and, ultimately, to the horrors of the second world war.
The allies wanted to prevent this ever happening again. So, at a meeting at the Bretton Woods resort in New Hampshire in 1944, they negotiated the details of an economic architecture that would - in perpetuity - stop uncontrolled money flows.
This, they hoped, would keep governments from using trade as a weapon with which to bully neighbours, and create a stable system that would help secure peace and prosperity.
To prevent speculators trying to attack these fixed currencies, cross-border money flows were severely constrained. Money could move overseas, but only in the form of long-term investments, not to speculate short term against currencies or bonds.
And the system was remarkably successful: economic growth in most western countries was almost uninterrupted throughout the 1950s and 1960s, societies became more equal, while governments made massive improvements in public health and infrastructure.