The IMF has played a part in shaping the global economy since the end of World War II.
Cooperation and reconstruction (1944–71)
As the Second World War ends, the job of rebuilding national economies begins. The IMF is charged with overseeing the international monetary system to ensure exchange rate stability and encouraging members to eliminate exchange restrictions that hinder trade.
The end of the Bretton Woods System (1972–81)
After the system of fixed exchange rates collapses in 1971, countries are free to choose their exchange arrangement. Oil shocks occur in 1973–74 and 1979, and the IMF steps in to help countries deal with the consequences.
Debt and painful reforms (1982–89)
The oil shocks lead to an international debt crisis, and the IMF assists in coordinating the global response.
Societal Change for Eastern Europe and Asian Upheaval (1990–2004)
The IMF plays a central role in helping the countries of the former Soviet bloc transition from central planning to market-driven economies.
Globalization and the Crisis (2005 - present)
The implications of the continued rise of capital flows for economic policy and the stability of the international financial system are still not entirely clear. The current credit crisis and the food and oil price shock are clear signs that new challenges for the IMF are waiting just around the corner.
About the IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an organization of 189 countries, working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.
Created in 1945, the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 189 countries that make up its near-global membership.
The IMF at a Glance
Why the IMF was created and how it works
The IMF, also known as the Fund, was conceived at a UN conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, in July 1944. The 44 countries at that conference sought to build a framework for economic cooperation to avoid a repetition of the competitive devaluations that had contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The IMF's responsibilities: The IMF's primary purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system—the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables countries (and their citizens) to transact with each other. The Fund's mandate was updated in 2012 to include all macroeconomic and financial sector issues that bear on global stability.