Reconstruction and development. The Bretton Woods conference of 1944 gave rise to a set of global economic institutions - the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD or World Bank) and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), precursor to the World Trade Organisation (WTO). Their rationale reflected the experience of the Great Depression of the 1930s, when world output collapsed amidst a contraction of trade and competitive devaluations. During the 1950s, in a world of fixed exchange rates with borders gradually opening up to trade and finance, the World Bank funded mostly infrastructure projects for economic development first in Europe, but soon in developing countries. Poverty and basic needs. When the developed world recovered beyond expectations, attention turned to persistent poverty, particularly in Asia, one of the big battle grounds in the cold war. At the time, trust in public sector solutions to tackle development issues was still high. In addition to infrastructure lending, the 1970s saw rapid growth of World Bank projects in health and education, as well as rural and urban development to meet the basic needs of the world's poor via public sector solutions.