ENG - The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization that oversees the global financial system by following the macroeconomic policies of its member countries, in particular those with an impact on exchange rates and the balance of payments. It is an organization formed to stabilize international exchange rates and facilitate development. It also offers financial and technical assistance to its members, making it an international lender of last resort. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C., USA.
Organization and purpose
The International Monetary Fund was created in 1944, with a goal to stabilize exchange rates and assist the reconstruction of the world's international payment system. Countries contributed to a pool which could be borrowed from, on a temporary basis, by countries with payment imbalances. (Condon, 2007)
The IMF describes itself as "an organisation of 185 countries (Montenegro being the 185th, as of January 18, 2007), working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty". With the exception of Taiwan, North Korea, Cuba, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Tuvalu, and Nauru, all UN member states participate directly in the IMF. Most are represented by other member states on a 24-member Executive Board but all member countries belong to the IMF's Board of Governors.
The International Monetary Fund was formally created in July 1944 during the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. The representatives of 45 governments met in the Mount Washington Hotel in the area of Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States of America, with the delegates to the conference agreeing on a framework for international economic cooperation. The IMF was formally organised on December 27, 1945, when the first 29 countries signed its Articles of Agreement. The statutory purposes of the IMF today are the same as when they were formulated in 1944.
The IMF's influence in the global economy steadily increased as it accumulated more members. The number of IMF member countries has more than quadrupled from the 44 states involved in its establishment, reflecting in particular the attainment of political independence by many developing countries and more recently the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The expansion of the IMF's membership, together with the changes in the world economy, have required the IMF to adapt in a variety of ways to continue serving its purposes effectively.
In 2008, faced with a shortfall in revenue, the International Monetary Fund's executive board agreed to sell part of the IMF's gold reserves. On April 27, 2008, IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn welcomed the board's decision April 7, 2008 to propose a new framework for the fund, designed to close a projected $400 million budget deficit over the next few years. The budget proposal includes sharp spending cuts of $100 million until 2011 that will include up to 380 staff dismissals.
IMF/World Bank support of military dictatorships
The role of the Bretton Woods institutions has been controversial since the late Cold War period, as the IMF policy makers supported military dictatorships friendly to American and European corporations. Critics also claim that the IMF is generally apathetic or hostile to their views of democracy, human rights, and labor rights.
The controversy has helped spark the anti-globalisation movement. Arguments in favor of the IMF say that economic stability is a precursor to democracy; however, critics highlight various examples in which democratized countries fell after receiving IMF loans.
In the 60’s, the IMF and the World Bank supported the government of Brazil’s military dictator Castello Branco with tens of millions of dollars of loans and credit that were denied to previous democratically-elected governments.
Countries that were or are under a Military dictatorship whilst being members of the IMF/World Bank.