Are we ready for Bretton Woods II?

Paul Tero
The Futurian
Published in
5 min readJun 28, 2021


Photo by Antenna on Unsplash

Imagine what could be, not out of some Pollyanna-esque belief, but out of a fresh perspective. Imagine seeing the possibilities that contemporary trends and realities have opened before us. Imagine what could be if we allow ourselves to move beyond our current “business as usual” thinking.

At least 740 people in the mid-1940s did. They had experienced the ravages of the Great Depression and the tumult of World War 2. They had seen the shortcomings, unintended consequences and results of post-World War 1 treaties and agreements and were determined to learn the lessons and create a new framework for the future. And so, over the course of 2 years their committees met, they produced technical papers, and many spoke about the construction of a better world.

All of this toil paid off. The work that was undertaken and the agreements that were struck came together in a moment of time at Bretton Woods. This effort brought form and substance to a then nascent post-war narrative of what the future could look like.

A narrative that set orderly international trade and economic growth as guidelines. Where this particular story of “how to build better for all” took hold and became the way things were. This narrative became “business as usual”.

During the 70s & 80s, however, a new narrative took hold. A new “business as usual” developed. Neoliberalism’s call rang out and leaders across the globe responded.

Soon the belief in the goodness of markets replaced the reliance we had on governments. Competition was seen as a self-evident natural way of things. People were no longer citizens but consumers. Collective action was seen to be an aberration.

The way the world worked was transformed in the wake of World War II, and was transformed again as the influence of neoliberalism flowed through and from the centres of power. Post-war business as usual was replaced with a new business as usual.

So now, at the beginning of the 21st Century’s third decade, is a new narrative being constructed? Is now the time for a fresh transformation? Is now the time to usher in a new business as usual?

Is it time to replace consumers with citizens, time to see the government as good…

Paul Tero
The Futurian

Futurist, International Educator, Speaker and PhD Candidate (researching the “industries of the future”). More at