IMF (International Monetary Fund)

International Monetary Fund

International Monetary Fund (IMF), specialized agency of the United Nations, established in 1945. It was planned at the Bretton Woods Conference (1944), and its headquarters are in Washington, D.C. There is close collaboration between it and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Its primary mission is to ensure stability in the international monetary system. The IMF provides policy advice and financing to member countries with economic problems. The organization, using a fund subscribed by the member nations, purchases foreign currencies on application from its members so as to discharge international indebtedness and stabilize exchange rates. The IMF currency reserve units are called Special Drawing Rights (SDRs); from 1974 to 1980 the value of SDRs was based on the currencies of 16 leading trading nations. Since 1980 it has been reevaluated every five years and based on the relative international economic importance of the British pound sterling, the European Union euro (formerly the French franc and German mark), the Japanese yen, and the U.S. dollar. To facilitate international trade and reduce inequities in exchange, the fund has limited power to set the par value of currencies. Members are provided with technical assistance in making monetary transactions.

In 1995 the fund moved to increase disclosure requirements of countries borrowing money and at the same time created an emergency bailout fund for countries in financial crisis. IMF was criticized in 1998 for exacerbating the Asian financial crisis, through the fund's decision to require Asian nations to raise their interest rates to record levels. During the international financial crisis of the early 21st cent., the IMF provided loans and access to credit of more than $100 billion to developing countries that were affected by falling demand for their exports and other financial problems. IMF support and financing was also critical to financial rescue plans for several European Union members in the early 2010s. The fund is ruled by a board of governors, with one representative from each nation. The board of governors elects an executive board of 24 representatives to direct regular operations; the executive board selects and is chaired by the managing director, who also heads the IMF's staff. There are 188 members in the IMF.

See studies by H. G. Grubel (1970), T. Agmon et al., ed. (1984); R. D. Hormats (1987), T. Ferguson (1988), E. P. McLellan, ed. (2002), D. Vines and C. L. Gilbert, ed. (2004), E. M. Truman, ed. (2006), and G. Bird (2003) and as ed. with D. Rowlands (2 vol., 2007).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Capital Ideas: The IMF and the Rise of Financial Liberalization
Jeffrey M. Chwieroth.
Princeton University Press, 2010
Legislating International Organization: The US Congress, the IMF, and the World Bank
Kathryn C. Lavelle.
Oxford University Press, 2011
Necessary Reform? the IMF and International Financial Architecture
Cooper, Richard N.
Harvard International Review, Vol. 30, No. 4, Winter 2009
Role of the IMF in the Global Financial Crisis
Xafa, Miranda.
The Cato Journal, Vol. 30, No. 3, Fall 2010
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Accountability of the International Monetary Fund
Barry Carin; Angela Wood.
IDRC, 2005
The IMF: Victim of Its Own Success or Institutional Failure?
Masson, Paul R.
International Journal, Vol. 62, No. 4, Fall 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
The Chastening: Inside the Crisis That Rocked the Global Financial System and Humbled the IMF
Paul Blustein.
Public Affairs, 2001
Lending Credibility: The International Monetary Fund and the Post-Communist Transition
Randall W. Stone.
Princeton University Press, 2002
Unelected Government: Making the IMF and the World Bank More Accountable
Woods, Ngaire.
Brookings Review, Vol. 21, No. 2, Spring 2003
The International Monetary Fund and Strengthening the Architecture of the International Monetary System
Leckow, Ross B.
Law and Policy in International Business, Summer 1999
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