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International Monetary Fund
Source: Encyclopedia of Banking & Finance (9h Edition) by Charles J Woelfel
(We recommend this as work of authority.)

Established concurrently with its companion institution, the INTERNATIONAL BANK FOR RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is closely identified with the IBRD in the Articles of Agreement, as membership in the fund is a prerequisite to membership in the IBRD.  The Articles of Agreement of the IMF were formulated at the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference held in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, July 1-22, 1944, and came into force on December 27, 1945.  An organizational meeting of the Board of Directors of the IMF was held March 8, 1946; the executive directors first met on May 6, 1946; and on December 18, 1946, the IMF announced its agreement to the establishment of par values in gold and U.S. dollars for the currencies of 32 of its members.  On March 1, 1947, the fund announced readiness to commence exchange transactions.

Industrial countries who are members include:

Germany,Fed. Rep.

New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States

The seven largest countries in this group in terms of GNP - Canada, the United States, Japan, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom - are collectively referred to as the major industrial countries.

The developing countries include all other fund members, together with certain essentially autonomous dependent territories for which adequate statistics are available.



Its articles of agreement, state the following as the purposes of the IMF:

  1. To promote international monetary co-operation through a permanent institution that provides the machinery for consultation and collaboration on international monetary problems

  2. To facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade, and to contribute thereby to the promotion and maintenance of high levels of employment and real income and to the development of the productive resources of all members as primary objectives of economic policy

  3. To promote exchange stability, to maintain orderly exchange arrangements among members, and to avoid competitive exchange depreciation

  4. To assist in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments in respect to current transactions between members and in the elimination of foreign exchange restrictions which hamper the growth of world trade

  5. To give confidence to members by making the general resources of the IMF temporarily available to them under adequate safeguards, thus providing them with the opportunity to correct maladjustments in their balance of payments without resorting to measures destructive of national or international prosperity

  6. In accordance with the above, to shorten the duration and lessen the degree of disequilibrium in the international balances of payments of members.

The International Monetary Fund is an organization of countries that seeks to promote international monetary co-operation and to facilitate the expansion of trade, thus contributing to increased employment and improved economic conditions in all member countries.

To achieve its purposes, the fund has a code of economic behavior for its members, makes financing available to members in balance-of-payments difficulties, and provides them with technical assistance to improve their economic management.  As of 1987, the fund had 151 member countries, accounting for about four-fifths of total world production and 90% of world trade.

Member countries undertake to collaborate with the fund and with one another to assure orderly exchange arrangements and a stable system of exchange rates, together with a multilateral system of payments that is free from restrictions and thus promotes balance in the payments among countries.  Members are free to choose the form of exchange arrangements that they intend to apply, subject to their obligations to the fund and to its surveillance of their exchange rate policies.

The fund maintains a large pool of financial resources that it makes available to member countries - temporarily and subject to conditions - to enable them to carry out programs to remedy their payments deficits without resorting to restrictive measures that would adversely affect national or international prosperity.  Members make repayments to the fund so that its resources are used on a revolving basis and are continuously available to countries facing payments difficulties.  The policy adjustments that countries make in connection with the use of fund resources support their creditworthiness and thus facilitate their access to credit from other official sources and from private financial markets.

Both the regulatory and the financing features of the fund's policies contribute to the promotion of adjustment of imbalances in members' international payments.  These policies evolve in response to changing world economic conditions and the needs of fund members.  They apply equally to all member countries, whether industrial or developing, whether their payments are in deficit or surplus, and regardless of their economic system.

To enable the fund to carry out its policies, member countries continuously supply it with a broad range of economic and financial information, and the fund consults regularly with each member country on its economic situation.  The fund is therefore in a position to assist members in devising corrective steps when, or preferably before, problems arise in their balance of payments.

Having responsibilities for the international payments system, the fund is particularly concerned with global liquidity that is, the level and composition of the reserves that members have available for meeting their trade and payments requirements.  In 1969, the fund was given the responsibility for creating and allocating special drawing rights (SDRs), the only worldwide reserve asset established by international agreement.

The fund helps members co-ordinate their national economic policies internationally.  In effect, it provides a permanent international monetary forum.  The focus of the fund is not only on the problems of individual countries but also on the structure of the international monetary system and on the development of policies and strategies through which its members can work together to ensure a stable world financial system and sustainable economic growth.


The fund is based on an international treaty - its Articles of Agreement - that was drafted initially at a conference of 44 nations in 1944.

Membership in the fund is a prerequisite to membership in the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and close working relationships exist between the two organizations, as well as between the fund and the GENERAL AGREEMENT ON TARIFFS AND TRADE (GATT) and the BANK OR INTERNATIONAL SETTLEMENTS (BIS).  The fund is a specialized agency within the United Nations system, co-operating with the UN on matters of mutual interest.

the work of the fund is carried out through a board of governors, an executive board, a managing director, and a staff.  Each member country is represented by a governor and an alternate governor on the board of governors, the fund's highest authority, which meets annually and may cast ballots by mail or cable between meetings.  A member country's voting power primarily reflects its contribution to the fund's financial resources, which in turn is related to its relative size in the world economy.  The largest member, the U.S., has approximately 20% of the total voting power, and the smallest member countries each have considerably less than 1%.

The daily business of the fund is conducted by an executive board of 22 executive directors, chaired by the managing director, at its headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Among other duties, the executive board acts on requests by members for financial assistance, conducts consultations with members, takes decisions on general fund policies, and makes recommendations to the board of governors on matters requiring a vote of the governors, such as the admission of new members and increases in the fund's resources.

The five members having the largest voting power in the U.S., the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, and Japan - each appoint an executive director.  In addition, the fund's two largest creditor members may appoint an executive director if they are not among the five members having the largest voting power; as of 1987, Saudi Arabia appointed an executive director on this basis.  Sixteen executive directors were elected for two-year terms by groups of other member countries.  The elections take place in alternate years at the time of the annual meeting.

Since the early 1970s, the international monetary system has undergone major changes.  During this period, the board of governors has been advised by special committees of its members.  The first such group, the Committee on Reform of the International Monetary System and Related Issues (the "Committee of 20"), negotiated for two years without achieving a plan for comprehensive reform of the system, but in 1974 it recommended a series of immediate steps in a process of evolutionary reform.  Further negotiation in a successor body, the Interim Committee on the International Monetary System, led to the Second Amendment of the Articles of Agreement, which entered into force April 1, 1978.

The interim committee, a 22-member ministerial-level group with a structure paralleling that of the executive board, meets two or three times a year, keeping under review world economic conditions, the international monetary system, and the role of the fund.

The executive board appoints the fund's managing director, who serves both as its chairman and as chief of the operating staff of the fund, with a five-year term of office.

The professional and administrative staff of the fund is composed of international civil servants, appointed by and owing their duty exclusively to the fund.  The fund's professional staff consists primarily of economists, but there are among others accountants and legal experts.  They are recruited on a wide geographical  basis from the fund's member countries.  The staff numbers about 1,800, located mainly at the Washington, D.C. headquarters.

The staff is organized in five area departments (for Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere) and a number of other departments (administration, central banking, exchange and trade relations, external relations, fiscal affairs, IMF institute, legal, research, secretary's, and treasurer's).  In addition, there is a Bureau of Language Services a Bureau of Statistics and a Bureau of Computing Services.  The fund also maintains small permanent offices in Paris and Geneva and at the United Nations in New York.

Surveillance of Exchange Policies

The fund has the responsibility to ensure the effective operation of the international monetary system.  to that end, it oversees the compliance of members with their obligations to collaborate with the fund and with one another to ensure orderly exchange arrangements and to promote a stable system of exchange rates.  Members must direct their policies toward orderly economic growth with reasonable price stability and foster orderly underlying conditions for economic and financial stability.

In order to carry out its responsibility, the fund exercises surveillance over the exchange rate policies of members.  For this purpose the fund has adopted principles for the guidance of members' exchange policies and had established procedures by which it exercises surveillance.  These principles and procedures are designed to identify and encourage the correction of inappropriate exchange rate policies.

In choosing the form of exchange arrangements that they wish to apply, member countries may allow the exchange rate of their currency to fluctuate or they may adopt arrangements that keep the exchange rate fixed in terms of other currencies.  Such arrangements include pegging the exchange rate of a currency to the rate of another currency, to the SDR (special drawing right) - which is valued in terms of a basket of 5 currencies - or to some other basket of currencies.  Yet another type of exchange arrangement is that of the EUROPEAN MONETARY SYSTEM, under which a group of countries observe fixed margins for the currencies within the group and allow the rates for these currencies to fluctuate with respect to currencies outside the groups.


The fund conducts a consultation with the member countries - in principle, annually - to appraise the members' economic and financial situations and policies.  Consultations are a primary means through which the fund fulfils its obligation to exercise surveillance of members' exchange rate policies.  They also help to keep the fund in a position to deal promptly with members' requests to use fund resources and with proposed changes in exchange practices that are subject to approval by the fund.  Members also provide the fund with a steady flow of information on their economies, some of which is disseminated to the public in the fund's publications.

Consultations begin with meetings in the member country between fund staff and representatives of the member government.  On the basis of these discussions, the staff prepares a report for the executive board.  Consultations end with a conclusion formulated by the managing director, expressing the views of the fund on the member's economic situation and policies, and this conclusion is transmitted to the member government by the fund.

Recent years have been marked by unusually severe problems of international indebtedness resulting from persistent high rates of inflation and low utilization of productive capacity in many member countries.  These global problems increasingly have required that members seek to co-ordinate their domestic economic policies at the international level.  In order to contribute to this effort, the fund staff conducts special consultations from time to time with members whose policies are of major importance to the world economy.  This is done in preparation for the frequent reviews of the world economic outlook by the executive board and the discussions of the world economy at the meetings of the interim committee and the board of governors.

The reviews of the world economic outlook are a principal means by which the executive board monitors developments in the international monetary system and the consequences for the world economy that arise from economic policies of major countries and groups of countries.  These reviews, published annually under the title World Economic Outlook also help to ensure a better functioning of the international monetary system by bringing into focus the need for coordinating the policies of members, as well as by providing the means for coordination.

Quotas and Resources

The fund's system of quotas is one of its central features.  Quotas are used to determine the voting power of members, their contribution to the fund's resources, their access to these resources, and their share in allocations of SDRs.  A member's quota reflects its economic size in relation to the total membership of the fund.  Each member pays a subscription to the fund equivalent to its quota, and the board of governors decides on the proportion to be paid in SDRs or in the member's currency.

Quotas of all fund members are reviewed at intervals of not more than five years.  Several general increases have been agreed on in the past to bring fund quotas into line with the growth of the world economy and the need for additional international liquidity, while special increases from time to time have been agreed on to adjust for differing rates of growth among members and for changes in their relative economic positions.  Increases in the total of fund quotas include the addition of quotas of new members, as well as general and special increases.  The next review is scheduled for completion in 1988.

As a result of members' payments of subscriptions, the fund holds substantial resources in members' currencies and SDRs, which are available to meet member countries' temporary balance-of-payment needs.  As of 1988, these subscriptions amounted to the equivalent of SDR 90 billion (about U.S. $117 billion, based on the average rate for 1987 of SDR 1 = U.S. $1.30).  Under previous arrangements, the fund received gold from its members, chiefly in payment of subscriptions.  Nearly 50 million ounces of the fund's gold has been sold in 1976-1980 under a program reflecting agreement to reduce the monetary role of gold; about 100 million ounces remained as of 1987.

The fund may supplement its resources by borrowing.  As of 1987, the fund has a number of borrowing agreements in effect in order to meet members' supplementary financing needs that could not be met from the fund's own resources.  In addition, under the general arrangements to borrow, ten industrial member countries - with Switzerland, a nonmember of the fund and, through a special arrangement, Saudi Arabia included - stand ready to lend to the fund to meet the balance-of-payments requirements of anyone of them.  these arrangements have been used when needed and extended periodically since they were first agreed to in 1962, and they permit a maximum credit to the fund equivalent to about SDR 6.5 billion (about U.S. $85 billion in lenders' currencies.

Financial Facilities

The financial resources of the fund are available under a variety of permanent and temporary facilities to help members meet balance-of-payments needs.

When a member uses the fund's resources under any of these facilities, the mechanics of the transaction are as follows.  The member uses its own currency to purchase from the fund an equivalent amount of the currencies of other members, or SDRs.  The currencies or SDRs drawn from the fund are used to finance the drawing member's balance-of-payments deficit.  After a member has made a drawing, the fund holds more of the member's currency and less of the currency drawn or of the SDRs.

Within a specified period, or earlier if the member's balance of payments and reserve position improve, the member must repurchase from the fund its own currency that it paid to make the drawing.  In repurchasing, the member uses SDRs or the currencies of other members specified by the fund.

When a member country's currency is used by other members, the fund's holdings of the currency may fall below the amount of the member's quota.  This results in the member's having a reserve position in the fund that is termed the reserve tranche.  This amount is highly liquid, and if it is drawn upon the drawings need not be repurchased.  If the fund's holdings of the member's currency fall below a specified level, the fund pays remuneration to the member for the use of its currency.  The rate of remuneration is related to short-term money market interest rates and is reviewed quarterly by the fund.

Basic credit and extended facilities:  Under the fund's basic facility, the credit tranches, a member may normally draw up to the amount of its quota, thus raising the fund's holdings of its currency from the equivalent of its quota up to 200% of this amount.  When a member country suffers from structural imbalances in production, trade, or prices, so that adjustment requires a longer period and larger resources than are normally permitted under basic credit policies, the member may make use of the extended facility, under which it may purchase up to 110% of its quota.

Drawings are generally made under lines of credit called standby or extended arrangements, depending on whether the basic or extended facility is used.  Under a standby arrangement, drawings normally take place over a period of one year but may also be made over a period of up to three years; under the extended facility, drawings are usually made over a period of three years.  Under the basic facility, repurchases must begin three years after the drawings and be completed within five years after drawings are made; under the extended facility, repurchases begin after four years and end no later than ten years after the drawings.

Drawings under all permanent facilities, except for reserve positions, are subject to a one-time service charge of 0.5%, plus a charge at an annual rate that rises with the length of time during which the drawing is not repaid.  These charges are maintained at lower levels than market interest rates, in keeping with the fund's policies under which members cooperate to promote balance-of-payments adjustment.

The income that the fund receives from charges on drawings under its permanent facilities is used to pay remuneration to creditor countries for the use of their currencies and to meet the fund's operating costs.  Any surplus may be used to increase remuneration or reduce charges, or it may be added to the fund's regular resources or distributed to its members in proportion to their quotas.  If there is a deficit in any six-month period, the fund is required to review all aspects of its financial position, including the rate of remuneration and its charges.

When a member receives financial assistance under the basic and extended facilities, it must adopt a program to overcome its payments imbalance.  This aspect of fund policies is known as conditionality.  As a minimum, a member is expected to show the fund that it is making a reasonable effort to overcome its difficulties.  If a member's balance-of-payments need grows larger in relation to the size of its quota, a greater adjustment effort is likely to be required to remedy the imbalance, and the program that the member agrees on with the fund therefore requires more substantial justification.  Under such circumstances, the fund's financial assistance is disbursed in installments according to performance under the program.  Performance is measured by broad economic and financial criteria such as the member's policies regarding credit, government financing, external borrowing, and trade and payments restrictions.

The fund encourages members developing payments problems to promptly adopt corrective measures that can be supported by fund resources.  Early action is emphasized because as a country's economic and financial imbalances become widespread and deep-seated, it must usually take more basic, and therefore more difficult steps to correct them.  In helping members to devise adjustment programs, the fund pays due regard to their domestic, social, and political objectives, economic priorities, and circumstances.

Special facilities:  The fund makes resources available under two permanent special-purpose arrangements - the compensatory and the buffer stock financing facilities - and under a temporary supplementary financing facility.

Compensatory financing is available to members facing payments difficulties resulting from temporary shortfalls in their export earnings that are largely due to conditions beyond their control, such as falling commodity prices and natural disasters, including bad weather.  Buffer stock financing assists members having payment difficulties to finance their contributions to international buffer stocks that are maintained to stabilize world markets for commodities such as tin, and rubber.  Charges for drawings under these two permanent facilities follow the same schedule as those for basic credit facility drawings.

To meet particular needs, temporary facilities have sometimes been established.  For example, members drew SDR 6.9 billion (about U.S. $9 billion) under temporary oil facilities set up to help meet balance-of-payments needs resulting from higher oil prices in 1974 and 1975.  During 1979-1984, the fund made further resources available under its supplementary financing facility to assist members facing payments imbalances that were large in relation to their quotas.  Resources under this facility are provided in conjunction with drawings under the basic credit and extended facilities.

Special drawing rights:  The SDR is an international reserve asset created by the fund in light of the global need to supplement existing reserve assets.  SDRs were created in 1969 under the First Amendment of the Articles of Agreement, in response to widespread concern over the adequacy of the growth of international liquidity.  It is the declared intention of member countries that the SDR should eventually become the principal reserve asset in the international monetary system.

Allocations of SDRs are made in proportion to their quotas to member countries that are participants in the special drawing rights department.  The first allocations of SDRs, totaling SDR 9.3 billion, were made in the years 1970 to 1972.  Allocations of SDRs were resumed with the creation of SDR 4 billion on January 1, 1979.  A further SDR 4 billion was allocated on January 1, 1980.  After another allocation of SDR 4 billion on January 1, 1981, SDRs in existence totaled SDR 21.3 billion, about 4% of prevailing international reserves, excluding gold.

The method of valuation of the SDR is determined by the fund.  The SDR has been valued on the basis of market exchange rates for a basket of currencies.  As of 1982, the basket consisted of the currencies of the 5 members with the largest share in world exports.  Each business day, the fund publishes the exchange rates of a wide range of currencies in terms of the SDR, and these are reported by a fund's twice-monthly IMF Survey and in International Financial Statistics, its monthly statistical publication.

A participant may use SDRs without limitation, in a wide and increasing variety of ways by agreement with another participant - for example, to obtain currency in a spot transaction, for the settlement of a financial obligation, as a loan, as security for a loan, as a swap against currency, or in a forward exchange operation.  In addition, if a participant has a balance-of-payments need, it can use its SDRs to obtain usable currency from another participant designated by the fund.  A participant may also use SDRs to make payments to the fund, such as repurchases, and the fund itself may transfer SDRs to a participant for various purposes, including transferring SDRs instead of currency to a member using the fund's resources.

A participant with holdings of SDRs in excess of its allocations earns net interest on the excess, and a participant with holdings below its allocations pays charges at the same rate on its net use of SDRs.  The interest rate on the SDR is related to the short-term money market interest rates and is calculated weekly.

The SDR is the unit of account for all purposes of the fund.  Outside the fund it is widely used as a unit of account in private contracts, such as SDR-denominated deposits with commercial banks, as well as in international and regional organizations including the African Development Bank, the ASIAN DEVELOPMENT BANK, the Arab Monetary Fund, the Asian Clearing Union, the Economic Community of West African States, the Islamic Development Bank, and the Nordic Investment Bank.

A number of the fund's member countries have decided to peg their currency to the SDR.  The value of the currency is fixed in terms of the SDR, then set in terms of other currencies by reference to their SDR values as calculated daily by the fund.

Gold Sales and Trust Fund

Efforts in recent years to reform the international monetary system have included steps to gradually reduce the monetary role of gold.  These measures included abolishing the official price of gold and any requirement that members make payments to the fund in gold.  In addition, the sale of 50 million ounces of gold was one-third of the fund's gold holdings at the time the agreement was reached on August 31, 1975 and was undertaken in a four-year program through May, 1980.

Half of the gold (25 million ounces) was sold directly at the former official price of SDR 35 an ounce to the countries that were members of the fund at the time of the agreement.  These sales were completed in early 1980.

The other 25 million ounces were being sold for the benefit of developing countries in public auctions from June, 1976, through May, 1980.  Each of the 104 eligible developing countries received part of the profits from these gold sales directly, according to the ratio of its quota to total fund quotas as of August 31, 1975.  the remaining profits financed concessionary loans from a trust fund, which was established to provide additional balance-of-payments assistance to developing countries that were eligible because of their low per capita income and qualified for assistance on the basis of adjustment programs agreed to with the fund.

Technical Assistance

Member countries of the fund in various stages of development make use of its technical assistance on many subjects related to improving the management of their economies.  Experts sent to member countries by the fund advise on central and general banking; fiscal, monetary, and balance-of-payments policies and statistics; accounting, exchange, and trade systems; and operational aspects of fund transactions and policies.

The fund has provided technical services at the request of members since its earliest years, and at present technical assistance is provided through consultations, special technical assistance missions, resident representatives from the fund staff, and experts recruited from outside the fund.  The Central Banking Department, the Fiscal Affairs Department, and the IMF Institute were established in 1964 to broaden and coordinate the increasing technical assistance given by the fund; the Central Banking Department and the Fiscal Affairs Department participate in a wide range of other fund activities.

The IMF Institute is a department of the fund whose purpose is to improve the expertise of officials from member countries in the use of modern tools of economic analysis, in the management of economies, and in fund procedures and policies.  Training courses on financial analysis and policy, balance-of-payments methodology, and public finance are conducted at the fund's headquarters in Arabic, English, French, and Spanish.  Some 5,000 officials from nearly every member country have completed such courses since the founding of the IMF Institute, which also provides assistance in its areas of competence to regional and national training centers.


The fund has an active publications program that includes regular and special reports, statistical bulletins, books, periodicals, and pamphlets.  The purpose of the program is to further the fund's work and to carry out its obligation to act as a center for the collection and exchange of information on monetary and financial problems.

The Annual Report of the executive board to the board of governors, published in September for use at the annual meeting, reviews the fund's activities and presents an up-to-date analysis of developments in the world economy and in the international monetary system.

The Annual Report on Exchange Arrangements and Exchange Restrictions, published in August, reviews developments in exchange restrictions and trade practices having direct implications for the balance of payments of member countries.  It includes country-by-country descriptions of the exchange systems of most countries of the world.

The fund is a principal source of internationally comparable statistics on national economies, including financial and economic data that are relevant to the analysis of countries' monetary and payments problems.  Consequently, statistical publications form a major part of the fund's publications program.  In addition to each country's transactions and operations with the fund, the statistics published include data on exchange rates, international reserves, money and banking, prices, production, external trade, wages and employment, balance of payments, government finance, and national accounts.  These areas are all covered in the monthly and annual issues of International Financial Statistics, which is published in English, French, and Spanish.  The Balance of Payments Manual (fourth edition, 1977) specifies the methodology to be used by member countries in computing and reporting balance-of-payments data; the detailed data collected by the fund are given in the monthly and annual issues of the Balance of Payments Yearbook.  Detailed data on government finance statistics are given in the Government Finance Statistics Yearbook, and data on external trade are included in the monthly and annual issues of Directions of Trade.  Computer tape subscriptions to each of these statistical publications are available.

By having a repository of knowledge on economic and financial matters and maintaining close relations with its members, the fund is well placed to carry out a program of research into economic and financial problems.  The results of some of these studies are published in Staff Papers, the quarterly economic journal of the fund.

The IMF Survey, published twice a month in English, French, and Spanish, reports developments in the fund and the international monetary system in the broader context of world economic and financial news, including changes in countries' policies.  A quarterly magazine, Finance and Development, published jointly by the fund and the World Bank, carries articles on topics related to the interests of the two institutions.

Recent developments

The 1970s and 1980s provided the most demanding economic challenges of the fund's 40-year history.  The collapse of the Bretton Woods par value system and the dramatic rise in oil prices during the 1970s and 1980s brought a reasonably successful response from the IMF.  the international debt crisis of the 1980s that resulted when a number of heavily indebted developing countries were unable to repay what they owed to commercial banks and to governments of member countries was equally difficult to deal with.  The fund provided loans on an unprecedented scale to support the economic reorganization of such countries by acting as intermediary between debtor countries and their creditors and by participating in efforts to restructure the debt.  The fund was able to stabilize the international monetary system.  The fund continued its involvement in the debt crisis throughout the 1980s, during which period it began a program of lending at highly concessional interest rates, in conjunction with the World Bank and other lenders, to member countries undertaking comprehensive restrucEagle Tradersg of their economies to eliminate protracted difficulties in meeting international payments.  Low rates of interest and long payback periods have made this structural adjustment facility attractive.  As a result, the fund has enlarged the scope of the program by soliciting additional financing - about $12 billion - from the fund's better-off members.

In the 1980s, the International Monetary Fund has exerted major efforts in dealing with the international debt problem.  The IMF has made available SDR 30 billion of its resources in supporting its adjustment programs in 70 member countries and has arranged financial packages for debtor countries from governments, commercial banks, and other financial institutions.  In 1985, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury James Baker made a proposal to coordinate international efforts to deal with the debt problems of developing countries.  In June 1987, the leaders of seven major industrial nations at the periodic Economic Summit in Venice agreed to improve structures for coordinating their country's policies and to provide further financial assistance to debt-ridden developing countries.


After the original Bretton Woods par value system broke down in 1971, following the discontinuance in August, 1971, of the gold window by the U.S. for convertibility into gold of foreign official dollar holdings and the subsequent attempt in the Smithsonian Agreement to revive the par value system with a widened band of permitted fluctuation around the pars (December, 1971), the ensuing period of increased exchange rate fluctuation and the beginning in 1973 of free-floating and managed-floating exchange rates led to fears of a return to competitive rate depreciation and other beggarthy-neighbor practices that would have adversely affected international trade and capital flows as in pre-World War II years.

As long as it lasted, the par value system on the Bretton Woods model unquestionably fostered a substantial expansion in international trade and investment by providing the necessary international environment of relative exchange rate stability, minimization of trade barriers and restrictive practices, and a source of liquidity to help overcome short-term balance-of-payments imbalances.  These advantages deserved preservation if possible.  Thus when the new Article IV of the Articles of Agreement of the IMF concerning exchange rate arrangements was adopted, allowing members to select a wide variety of exchange rate systems, including free-floating and managed-floating exchange rates, and continuing the role of the IMF in providing conditional and unconditional liquidity, the continuance of the International Monetary Fund as one of the cornerstones of the international monetary system was assured.


The IMF publishes many authoritative reports, papers, books, and other publications.

Reports and other documents (free)

Annual report of the executive board for the financial year

Annual report on exchange arrangements and exchange restrictions

Bylaws, rules and regulations

Selected decisions of the international monetary fund and selected documents

Summary proceedings of the annual meeting of the board of governors.

Subscription publications

Balance of payment statistics

Direction of trade statistics

Government finance statistics yearbook

International financial statistics

Staff papers

Occasional papers

World economic and financial surveys


CELARIER, M.  "Debt Relief Gains Ground."  United States Banker, December, 1988.

EVANS, J., and TOBIN, M.  "Bad Debt and Bad Blood."  Euromoney, September, 1988.

"Japan Takes Over the IMF."  Euromoney, September, 1988.

POWNALL, R., and STUART, B.  "The IMF's Compensatory and Contingency Financing Facility."  Finance and Development, December, 1988.

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND, The Role and Function of the International Monetary Fund, (Washington:  International Monetary Fund, 1985)

"the Dollar's Berlin Wall."  Economist, October 1, 1988.

"Wither the Fund?"  Economist, September 24, 1988.

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