The IMF at a Glance

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) works 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
187 governments of the countries that make up its near-global membership.

Why the International Monetary Fund was created and how it works

The IMF, also known as the “Fund,” was conceived at a United Nations conference
convened in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, in July 1944. The
45 governments represented at that conference sought to build a framework for economic cooperation that would avoid a repetition of the vicious circle of 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 buy goods and services from each other. This is essential for sustainable economic growth, increasing living standards, and alleviating poverty. Following the crisis, the Fund is clarifying and updating its mandate to cover the full range of macroeconomic and financial sector policies that bear on global stability.

Fast Facts on the IMF

  • Membership: 187 countries
  • Headquarters: Washington, DC
  • Executive Board: 24 Directors representing countries or groups of countries
  • Staff: approximately 2,360 from 146 countries
  • Total quotas: US$333 billion (as of 2/28/10)
  • Additional pledged or committed resources: US$600 billion
  • Loans committed (as of 2/28/10): US$191 billion, of which US$121 billion have not
    been drawn
  • Biggest borrowers: (credit outstanding as of 2/28/10): Romania, Hungary, Ukraine
  • Surveillance consultations: Concluded in 2008—177 countries in 2008, of which
    155 voluntarily published information on their consultation (as of 03/31/09)
  • Technical assistance: Field delivery in FY2009—181 person years
  • Original aims: Article I of the Articles of Agreement sets out the IMF’s main goals:
    • promoting international monetary cooperation;
    • facilitating the expansion and balanced growth of international trade;
    • promoting exchange stability;
    • assisting in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments; and
    • making resources available (with adequate safeguards) to members
      experiencing balance of payments difficulties.