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Finance & Development
A quarterly magazine of the IMF
December 2001, Volume 38, Number 4

New Book Features IMF's Role in Combating the Global Debt Crisis

The 1980s were a tumultuous period during which the IMF came of age as a participant in global financial markets. Silent Revolution: The International Monetary Fund, 1979-1989, written by James M. Boughton and published by the IMF in October 2001, is a history of the world economy—and of the IMF's role in it—during that period. The book provides indispensable background for anyone seeking to understand how the IMF later responded to the financial crises of the 1990s and how it might respond to the global economic effects of the war on terrorism in 2001 and beyond.

The new history describes the internal workings of the IMF during the 1980s—not just what decisions the IMF made but how and why it made them. In particular, it analyzes the international debt crisis of the 1980s and explains the way in which the IMF worked with indebted countries and their creditors to develop a strategy for resolving the crisis. It also describes how the IMF conducted surveillance over the macroeconomic and exchange rate policies of its member countries, how the World Economic Outlook exercise became a major tool for analyzing the effects of economic policies, and how the IMF supported the policy coordination efforts of the major industrial countries. The book examines IMF lending to developing countries and takes an in-depth look at how several countries fell into arrears to the IMF and the development of tactics to deal with this problem. Finally, it discusses the manner in which the institution adapted to changing global conditions throughout the 1980s and how it raised the financial resources necessary to do its work.

This latest history, fourth in a sequence of histories of the IMF, includes citations to hundreds of internal documents that are now, as a result of the IMF's new transparency policy, open to outside researchers. It is an insider's history of the period, although the manuscript was also reviewed by a distinguished panel of outside experts.

James M. Boughton holds a Ph.D. in economics from Duke University and has taught economics at Indiana University. He has served as an economist for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris and as an Advisor in the IMF's Research Department. He is currently an Assistant Director in the IMF's Policy Development and Review Department.

Copies of James M. Boughton's Silent Revolution, The International Monetary Fund 1979-1989 (Washington: International Monetary Fund), 2001, 1,140 pp. (cloth) are available for $75.00 each from IMF Publication Services, 700 Nineteenth Street, N.W., Washington, DC 20431 U.S.A.