International Monetary Fund


IMF Book Launch and Seminar

Tearing Down Walls: The International Monetary Fund, 1990 – 1999

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Event Details

  • Date: Thursday, May 3, 2012
  • Time: 2:30 pm – 4:00 pm
  • Place: IMF HQ2
  • 1919 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC
  • Attendance is open to the public.

This volume—the fifth in a series of histories of the International Monetary Fund—examines the 1990s, a tumultuous decade in which the IMF faced difficult challenges and took on new and expanded roles.

Among these were assisting countries that had long operated under central planning to manage transitions toward market economies, helping countries in financial crisis after sudden loss of support from private financial markets, adapting surveillance to reflect the growing acceptance of international standards for economic and financial policies, helping low-income countries grow and begin to eradicate poverty while staying within its mandate as a monetary institution, and providing adequate financial assistance to members in an age of limited official resources. The IMF's successes and setbacks in facing these challenges provide valuable lessons for an uncertain future. Available in print and e-book formats at the links below.

This event is open to the public, and those wishing to attend are asked to RSVP by sending an email to with the following details: full name, affiliation or employer name, and daytime phone number. Please RSVP no later than 4:00 p.m. on May 2, 2012.

IMF and World Bank personnel are also welcome, and they need only their ID cards to enter (i.e., no RSVP necessary for those with an IMF or World Bank ID)


Moderated by David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director


Harold James (Princeton University)

Simon Johnson (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

Moisés Naím (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

James Boughton (IMF Historian)

Jointly sponsored by the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department and the External Relations Department of the IMF.

About the Author:

James M. Boughton was named Historian of the IMF in 1992. From 1981 to 1992, he held various positions in the IMF Research Department. He also served as Assistant Director in the Strategy, Policy, and Review Department from 2001 to 2010. Prior to joining the IMF, he was Professor of Economics at Indiana University and served as an economist at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Advance Comments about Tearing Down Walls:

“James Boughton’s monumental history of the IMF brings a richness of institutional detail to understand much of what happened in the 1990s, especially for the Fund’s role in the Asian financial crisis. I could not put this masterpiece down.”

—Andrew Sheng, author of From Asian to Global Financial Crisis

“Boughton has written an extremely accessible narrative account of the IMF’s work in the decade of the 1990s. It is an exceptionally well-written, flowing account, free of jargon; a complete work of record and reference, meticulous in its attention to all the relevant details. There will be no better place to go to find what the IMF did in a decade packed with activity.”

—Forrest Capie, author of The Bank of England: 1950s to 1979

“This comprehensive yet very readable book provides a thorough and insightful look at the IMF in the 1990s. Boughton does an excellent job of personalizing the story line, taking it beyond a dry bureaucratic environment to an often spirited and gripping read. In keeping with the new spirit of transparency of the Fund, he provides a penetrating look at the inner workings of the IMF, of great value to both informed analysts and a general readership.”

—Oleh Havrylyshyn, author of Divergent Paths in Post-Communist Transformation

“At the start of the 1990s, the IMF was riding high. Exuding ‘can do’ confidence, the organization was thrust to the front lines for countries trying to make a permanent break with Soviet-style communism and, for the most part, played its role effectively. Yet by the end of the 1990s, following the Asian financial crisis, the IMF’s legitimacy was in question and its reputation—in the eyes of some countries—was greatly tarnished. Read Boughton’s definitive account to understand both the events and why they continue to matter today. This is history at its most compelling.

—Simon Johnson, author of 13 Bankers