Written by Gustaf Gimdal
Conceived at the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) officially came into existence on 27 December 1945 and started operations in 1947. Its 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 IMF has 188 member countries, all of which are represented in the highest decision-making body, the Board of Governors. This body elects or appoints the 24 Executive Directors of the Executive Board, responsible for the Fund’s daily operations.
The IMF has a quota system, which determines the maximum amount of financial resources that each country should make available to the IMF, what voting power it has and how much financing it can obtain from the IMF.
The IMF provides several facilities for concessional (i.e. at no, or below market rate, interest) and non-concessional lending that member countries can request, normally with quantitative and structural conditions attached.
In 2010, the Board of Governors agreed on a package of far-reaching reforms of IMF quotas and the IMF’s governance. These would give emerging market economies bigger influence on IMF decisions. The reforms, however, have been blocked, since the US Congress has still not ratified them.
Read this Briefing on The International Monetary Fund (IMF) : Rebalancing global economic weights in PDF.