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IMF Financial Operations 2015

IMF Financial Operations 2015

October 2015

 

 



The IMF Financial Operations 2015 provides a broad introduction to how the IMF fulfills its mission through its financial activities. It covers the financial structure and operations of the IMF and also provides background detail of the financial statements for the IMF's activities during the most recent financial year. This publication (currently in its second edition) updates a previous report entitled Financial Organization and Operations of the IMF, first published in 1986 and last issued in 2001 (the sixth edition). That 2001 report reflected the seismic shifts in the global economy and in the IMF's structure and operations that occurred after the fall of the Soviet Union and the various currency and financial crises of the 1990s. This revised and updated report covers more recent developments, including measures taken in response to the global financial crisis of 2007–09 and the institutional reforms aimed at ensuring that the IMF's governance structure evolves in line with developments in the global economy, measures to enhance the financial safety net for developing economies, as well as reforms to the IMF's income model.

Contents

Preface

This publication provides a broad introduction to how the IMF fulfills this mission through its financial activities. It covers the financial structure and operations of the IMF and also provides background detail of the financial statements for the IMF’s activities during the most recent financial year. Making such financial information publicly available is part of the IMF’s overarching commitment to transparency. Transparency in economic policy and the availability of reliable data on economic and financial developments are critical for sound decision-making and for the smooth functioning of the international economy. Toward that end, this publication also contains numerous links to other publicly available information on IMF finances, including on the IMF’s website, www.imf.org.

Chapter 1 reviews the evolution of the IMF’s financial structure and operations, its role and functions, governance structure, and the nature of recent reforms. Chapters 2 and 3 explain how the IMF provides lending to member countries experiencing actual or potential balance of payments problems, meaning that the country cannot find sufficient financing on affordable terms to meet its net international payments (for example, for imports or external debt redemptions). This financial assistance enables countries to rebuild their international reserves, stabilize their currencies, continue paying for imports, and restore conditions for strong economic growth, while undertaking policies to correct underlying problems. Chapter 2 reviews IMF lending made at market rates (that is, nonconcessional lending facilities), and Chapter 3 describes the various concessional facilities by which the IMF lends to low-income member countries at favorable rates (currently, a zero interest rate). Chapter 4 reviews the SDR mechanism; Chapter 5 outlines the sources of income for the IMF; and Chapter 6 outlines the institution’s approach to financial risk management. The publication also includes a list of common abbreviations, a glossary, and an index.

Acknowledgments

Abbreviations

Chapter 1: Overview of the IMF as a Financial Institution
The International Monetary Fund was founded some 70 years ago near the end of World War II. The founders aimed to build a framework for economic cooperation that would forestall the kinds of economic policies that contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s and the global conflict that ensued. The world has changed dramatically since 1944, bringing extensive prosperity to many countries and lifting millions out of poverty. The IMF has evolved as well, but in many ways its main purpose— to support the global public good of financial stability and prosperity—remains the same today as when the organization was established.

Chapter 2: Nonconcessional Financial Operations
The IMF resources are held in the General Department, which consists of three separate accounts: the General Resources Account (GRA), the Special Disbursement Account (SDA), and the Investment Account (IA). The GRA is the principal account of the IMF and handles by far the largest share of transactions between the IMF and its members. The GRA can best be described as a pool of currencies and reserve assets largely built from members’ fully paid capital subscriptions in the form of quotas.

Chapter 3: Financial Assistance for Low-Income Countries
The IMF’s financial assistance for low-income countries (LICs) is composed of concessional loans and debt relief.
Concessional lending began in the 1970s and has expanded since. In July 2009, the IMF’s Executive Board approved a comprehensive reform of the IMF’s concessional facilities. Such assistance is now provided through the facilities of the Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust (PRGT), which assists eligible countries in achieving and maintaining a stable and sustainable macroeconomic position consistent with strong and durable poverty reduction and growth.

Chapter 4: Special Drawing Rights
Special drawing rights (SDRs) were created in 1969 as an international reserve asset to supplement other reserve assets whose growth was inadequate to finance the expansion of international trade and finances under the Bretton Woods system in the postwar period and to support the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system. The creation of the SDR was intended to make the regulation of international liquidity subject, for the first time, to international consultation and decision. The SDR is not a currency, nor is it a claim on the IMF. Instead, it is a potential claim on the freely usable currencies of IMF members. The IMF may allocate SDRs unconditionally to members (participants) who may use them to obtain freely usable currencies in order to meet a balance of payments need without undertaking economic policy measures or repayment obligations.

Chapter 5: The IMF's Income Model
This chapter explains the sources of income for the IMF. It elaborates on how the IMF has adapted its financial structure to finance its administrative expenditures. The IMF’s income is generated primarily through its lending and investing activities (Figure 5.1). Since its inception, the IMF has relied primarily on lending activities to fund its administrative expenses. Lending income is derived from the fees and charges levied on the use of credit from the General Resources Account (interest on loans). In addition to the basic rate of charge, the use of IMF credit is subject to surcharges under certain circumstances, and all IMF credit is subject to service charges and commitment fees on credit lines. A small amount of income is also generated by receipts of interest on the IMF’s holdings of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs).

Chapter 6: Financial Risk Management
The IMF’s Articles of Agreement call for adequate safeguards for the temporary use of its resources. Risks stem from interactions with the membership in fulfillment of the IMF’s mandate as a cooperative international organization that makes its general resources available temporarily to its members. The IMF has an extensive risk-management framework in place, including procedures to mitigate traditional financial risks as well as strategic and operational risks. The latter risks are addressed by a variety of processes, including surveillance reviews, lending policies and operations, capacity building, standards and codes of conduct for economic policies, the communications strategy, and others.

Appendix 1: IMF Membership: Quotas, and Allocations and Holdings of SRDs

Appendix 2: Special Voting Majorities for Selected Financial Decisions

Appendix 3: Other Administered Accounts

Appendix 4: Disclosure of Financial Position with the IMF in the Balance Sheet of a Member's Central Bank

Glossary