As a result of the Smithsonian Agreement, the U.S. dollar was pegged to gold at a rate of $38 per ounce. This agreement, signed in December 1971, was a response to the growing economic pressures faced by the United States in the post-World War II era.
Prior to the Smithsonian Agreement, the U.S. dollar had been pegged to gold at a rate of $35 per ounce under the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944. This fixed exchange rate system was intended to promote international trade and stabilize currencies, but it proved unsustainable in the face of growing inflation and trade imbalances.
The Nixon administration sought to address these issues by devaluing the dollar relative to gold and other currencies, while also introducing trade policies to reduce the U.S. trade deficit. The Smithsonian Agreement was seen as a compromise between the United States and its trading partners, as it allowed for greater flexibility in exchange rates while still maintaining some degree of stability.
While the Smithsonian Agreement was initially successful in stabilizing exchange rates and reducing trade imbalances, it ultimately proved to be a short-term fix. By the early 1970s, inflation and economic stagnation had returned, leading to the collapse of the Bretton Woods system and the complete abandonment of the gold standard.
Today, the U.S. dollar remains the dominant global reserve currency, but its value is determined by a variety of factors including interest rates, inflation, and geopolitical events. The legacy of the Smithsonian Agreement serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by policymakers in maintaining economic stability in an increasingly interconnected world.