Section Notes 70th Anniversary

Commemorating IMF’s 70th Anniversary

During 2014 the IMF marked the 70th anniversary of its founding at the Bretton Woods Conference. The institution looked back during the year, but the focus was also forward looking: How can the Fund best support the closely interconnected global economy of the 21st century? And how will it adapt to change going forward?

Confronting Crisis – Global Cooperation and the International Monetary Fund

At the time of the IMF’s founding in 1944, the world faced extraordinarily difficult choices. Depression had produced a world war that was still months away from ending. The challenges of rebuilding a new international order were daunting.

Over the succeeding decades, the IMF helped rebuild Europe. It assisted new nations when colonial empires retreated, and as the Soviet Union collapsed. The Fund helped Latin America and Asia to navigate crises, and worked closely with the new emerging market economies that came into their own with the new millennium. Since 2008, the IMF has worked closely with all its members to overcome the most recent global financial crisis.

During the year the IMF devoted the quarterly publication Finance & Development to the Bretton Woods anniversary in its September 2014 issue titled “Past Forward: The Future of Global Economics.” It also published a booklet on the anniversary by former IMF historian James M. Boughton titled The IMF and the Force of History: Events that Have Shaped the Global Institution.

Three events during the year highlighted the milestones of the past and the challenges of the present and future. The first was a July 2014 in-house celebration of the founding for members of the Executive Board, IMF staff, and retirees. The second was an Executive Board Retreat in September where Directors had an opportunity to discuss their views on “The Battle for Bretton Woods.”

The third event was Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s keynote speech to the 2014 Annual Meetings in October on “The IMF at 70: Making the Right Choices—Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.” In the speech, Ms. Lagarde used the anniversary to look ahead to the new challenges facing the IMF:

Seventy years after Bretton Woods, the international community stands at another fork in the road. The tried-and-true modes of cooperation seem to be fraying around the edges. The sustainability of the global economic engine itself is increasingly being questioned.

Can it really deliver the jobs, the incomes, the better living standards that people aspire to?

Out of the Ashes – Rebuilding the International Monetary System

There are three key collective choices to be made:

First, how do we achieve the growth and jobs needed to advance prosperity and ensure social harmony? I would call this the choice between acceleration and stagnation.

Second, how do we make this interconnected world a more inclusive, safer place for all of us to thrive? This is the choice between stability and fragility.

Third, how do we strengthen cooperation and multilateral-ism, instead of isolationism and insularity? This is the choice between solidarity and seclusion.

Our future hinges on our choices.