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Teacher Guide to Student Interactive:

The IMF In Action: Who Is the IMF?


This site shows five IMF representatives from different parts of the world. Each explains his/her role in the IMF and explains how the IMF works in the world arena to help member countries.


12 -18 year olds (6-12 graders, US) studying World Geography and Social Studies in school.

National Economics Content Standards

Standard 10 — Role of Economic Institutions
Institutions evolve in market economies to help individuals and groups accomplish their goals. Banks, labor unions, corporations, legal systems, and not-for-profit organizations are examples of important institutions. A different kind of institution, clearly defined and well-enforced property rights, is essential to a market economy.

Standard 15 — Growth
Investment in factories, machinery, new technology, and the health, education, and training of people can raise future standards of living.

Standard 16 — Role of Government
There is an economic role for government to play in a market economy whenever the benefits of a government policy outweigh its costs. Governments often provide for national defense, address environmental concerns, define and protect property rights and attempt to make markets more competitive. Most government policies also redistribute income.

Standard 17 — Using Cost/Benefit Analysis to Evaluate Government Programs
Costs of government policies sometimes exceed benefits. This may occur because of incentives facing voters, government officials, and government employees, because of actions by special interest groups that can impose costs on the general public, or because social goals other than economic efficiency are being pursued.

Warm-up Activities

Have students research, through the IMF web site, a list of the IMF member countries. Divide the class into groups of 3 students each. Have each group locate on a map two IMF member countries from each continent.

Lesson Applications

Divide the class into five groups, and assign one IMF representative to each group. Have the students read the narrative from that representative and answer the questions below. Then have each group summarize what it has read, and present its findings to the rest of the class in an open discussion.

Mr. Marco Arnone, Economist, Italy

  • Give an example of how the IMF differs from the World Bank.
  • The World Bank supervises specific projects; the IMF lends money to governments to support balance of payments.
  • When the IMF visits member countries to do a check up, what are some things it looks for?
  • We look at fiscal issues such as whether the government is running a budget deficit. We look at monetary issues like the inflation rate and interest rates. We ask questions like, "Is the economy growing?"
  • What kind of technical assistance does the IMF provide to developing countries?
  • Know-how setting up a bond market, expertise to help the government manage its finances more efficiently.
  • What kind of advice does the IMF provide to nations?
  • We give advice for reforms and an evaluation of the country's economy. We encourage them to make reforms. For example, banks may be having problems with people defaulting on their loans. So we can suggest steps the government could take to strengthen regulations and the enforcement of laws.
  • How does the IMF encourage cooperation?
  • It works with member countries to develop economic programs that are the result of a shared vision of what is best for the country. We don't go around imposing things. We try to work as a team with the countries. The more we open up the decision-making processes at the IMF and in the countries, the better it will be.
  • What is the biggest challenge to the IMF in the world?
  • Our biggest challenge is getting used to global changes. We have to facilitate these changes and to facilitate growth in our member countries.

Ms. Iman El Zayat, Arabic Interpreter/Translator, Egypt

  • What is the difference between interpreting and translating?
  • When I rewrite a document written by a Fund economist in another language, I'm translating it. When I work with real people speaking to each other in different languages during a Fund mission or meeting, I'm interpreting for them.
  • Describe one problem translators have when dealing with economics in Arabic countries.
  • Economists come up with new terms to describe economic ideas, situations, and measurements every day. For example, so many new terms related to the stock market and financial derivatives are not in the Arabic literature yet, and we need to deal with them. Also, some technical words in English cannot be translated into one word in Arabic and you do your best to be as brief and informative as possible.
  • How does the "Terminology Working Group" prepare for the challenges of translating important documents?
  • The group (a) reads as much literature related to our subject matter as possible in Arabic and English; (b) meets on a weekly basis to discuss new terms, decides on what to add to the database, and prepares glossaries and specialized bulletins for the benefit of the translators and interpreters; (c) consults with economists in the Fund and with Arab economists to clarify any given economic concept and decides on the best way to express it.

Ms. Susan George, Economist, Singapore

  • Does the IMF impose its own will on member countries? Explain.
  • We work together with each country to arrive at a solution to its monetary problems. And the Fund is helping government officials of member countries gain the expertise to be able to make their own choices. So it's not just Fund economists sitting on one side of the table, telling them what to do. Instead both sides have a dialogue.
  • How does the IMF train member countries to solve their own problems?
  • We teach an approach to solve the problems countries face, rather than reciting clear cut and dry answers. We want participants to be able to use what they learn to solve their dilemmas back home.
  • What is the role of the government in a market economy?
  • To deal with market failures, and to provide support for the poor.
  • What method does the IMF use to teach member countries?
  • Our main teaching tool is the case study. We use actual data to understand the properties of an economy. Then the officials have to design a reform program. They actually have a hands-on experience with making decisions about how you would solve a problem such as bringing inflation down.

Mr. Eric Sidgwick, Resident Representative, France

  • How does the IMF provide individualized assistance to a country?
  • Listening carefully to what government officials say and reporting it accurately to the IMF agencies involved. These are the main mechanisms that the IMF has to ensure that we really understand those we are seeking to help and to develop country ownership of the required solutions. It also helps us avoid recommending a "one-size-fits-all" approach to solving macroeconomic imbalances.
  • List some resonsibilities of a "resident representative" of the IMF.
  • Some tasks are; (a) find out why credit to state enterprises may have changed; (b) ask about the monthly revenue figures; (c) check import/export figures; (c) understand the relationship between government policy, revenues and the budget; (d) communicate with the central bank and representatives of the World Bank; (e) participate in social functions.
  • What are five different roles of a resident representative?
  • Economist, data gatherer, advisor, administrator, diplomat.

Ms. Meg Lundsager, Alternate Executive Director, United States

  • What is "Article IV"?
  • Article IV is the annual review the IMF does of every single member, including the United States.
  • How does the IMF help countries that are short of cash?
  • The IMF advises them on how to put together an economic policy package that will help them get out of that bind. The IMF supports these policy measures with lending to help them get over the immediate cash crunch.
  • Why is it important for countries to have accurate economic data about other countries?
  • When accurate data are available, private investors can help push countries to be more financially disciplined. If investors start seeing numbers that suggest that a country is headed for problems, they may not invest as much. That encourages the country to correct its policies and improve its image before there's a crisis and they have to call in the Fund.
  • What is "globalization"?
  • Globalization essentially means that countries are increasingly buying goods from each other, exchanging technology, and investing in each others' businesses.
  • What is an argument against globalization?
  • It damages the unique character of different societies and serves only to make profits for large corporations.
  • What is an argument in favor of globalization?
  • It is a way to share the advantages of modern technology, to help people raise their productivity and increase their incomes and to promote open societies.

Lesson Application

Divide students into groups of four. Have each group create another role in the IMF organization, similar to those in the IMF online activity. They should then identify the name of the IMF person in that role, his/her host country and his/her job responsibilities.

Additional Resources

Web Site
Our Economy and the World. This link provides a lesson idea related to the global economy. It is a good starting point for discussing the role of the U.S. in the world market and the role of the IMF as an overseer of good economic policy. http://www.michigan.gov/scope/0,1607,7-155-13515_13516_13520-82349--,00.html

Who Is the IMF?

EconEd Online