26 HARRY DEXTER WHITE

1892–1948

The case of Harry Dexter White provides undoubtedly one of the most controversial stories in economics, finance and global foreign policy.

As one of the leading American economists and Statesmen during World War 2, White's deep involvement at the 1944 Bretton Woods meeting enabled him, alongside British economist John Maynard Keynes, to formulate the design and implementation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Armed with a PhD in economics from Harvard, White rose to become chief economist at the US Treasury. During World War 2, White played a key role in the development of the ‘Morgenthau Plan'; a plan involving the dismantling of German industry and the internationalization of its activities. Clearly, White's positions throughout his career gave him access to an extensive range of confidential information about the US and its allies.

In spite of this, not only was White the US Treasury's top economist, but he was also one of the Soviet Union's most valuable spies . . .

. . . Starting from the 1940s onwards, a series of soviet defectors increasingly began naming a ‘Mr White' as a source of confidential information to the Soviets. White's double life as both the US Treasury's top economist whilst facilitating espionage activities for the Soviet Union was catching up with him.

In late 1948, White testified before a US court, denying being a communist. White died only a few days later from a heart attack.

Two years after ...

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