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Concepts to discuss with students
prior to visiting the Center

The IMF is a voluntary financial institution that encourages open and stable monetary relationships for the economic benefit of its entire membership. Representatives of each of the IMF's 184 member countries, in continual session at headquarters in Washington, keep one another informed of any change in their country's monetary or economic policies that might affect other member countries. Initiatives thought to be beneficial are encouraged. If an initiative is determined to be disruptive of the harmonious relations between members, the IMF attempts to dissuade the country from taking this step. At a member's request, IMF staff will work out with the country a program of reform so that the country can avoid initiating any policy that runs counter to the interests of the membership as a whole. If need be, the IMF will make a temporary loan to tide the country over the period of reform. The source of such loans is the membership fees that each country, in proportion to its economic strength, contributes to the IMF. The ultimate objective of the IMF is monetary stability that leads to open trade and economic growth in all its member countries.

The IMF gathers and publishes economic information on its member countries, encourages members to implement monetary and economic policies that will benefit the whole membership, provides technical assistance on monetary and fiscal matters and on banking, works out programs of economic reform with members having difficulties in keeping up payments to other countries, and occasionally lends large sums of money to help these members during the period of reform. Each year a team of IMF economists visits each member country to gather economic data and discuss economic policies with the government authorities. The team reports their findings for discussion by the IMF executive directors in Washington (representing the 184 member countries) who communicate to the member government their approval (or disapproval) of the country's policies. Technical assistance is offered to countries that require it. Countries with serious balance of payment problems can apply for help by IMF economists in working out a program of adjustment and reform, which may be accompanied by an IMF loan. The IMF maintains huge statistical data bases on its members' economies, much of which it makes available on its website. The IMF also puts out numerous publications that analyze member countries' economies and the world economy as a whole.

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