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International Monetary Fund

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization that was conceived on July 22, 1944 originally with 45 members and came into existence on December 27, 1945 when 29 countries signed the agreement with a goal to stabilize exchange rates and assist the reconstruction of the worlds international payment system. Countries contributed to a pool which could be borrowed from, on a temporary basis, by countries with payment imbalances. The IMF works to improve the economies of its member countries. The IMF describes itself as an organization of 187 countries (as of July 2010), working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty. The organization's stated objectives are to promote international economic cooperation, international trade, employment, and exchange rate stability, including by making resources available to member countries to meet balance of payments needs. Its headquarters are in Washington D.C. The IMF provides policy advice and financing to members in economic difficulties and also works with developing nations to help them achieve macroeconomic stability and reduce poverty. Marked by massive movements of capital and abrupt shifts in comparative advantage, globalization affects countries' policy choices in many areas, including labour, trade, and tax policies. Helping a country benefit from globalization while avoiding potential downsides is an important task for the IMF. The global economic crisis has highlighted just how interconnected countries have become in todays world economy.

Membership
The IMF currently has a near-global membership of 187 countries. All member states participate directly in the IMF. Member states are represented on a 24-member executive board (five executive directors are appointed by the five members with the largest quotas, nineteen executive directors are elected by the remaining members), and all members appoint a governor to the IMF's board of governors. The powers of the other countries within the organization are represented on a proportional scale to their population and economic rank in the world. The Executive board are the general owners of the IMF and can control major decisions within the organization, but all other member countries are represented on the population, economic scale.
All members of the IMF are also International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) members and vice versa

Functions
The IMFs main goal is to ensure the stability of the international monetary and financial system. It helps resolve crises, and works with its member countries to promote growth and alleviate poverty. It has three main tools at its disposal to carry out its mandate: surveillance, technical assistance and training, and lending. These functions are underpinned by the IMFs research and statistics. Surveillance The IMF promotes economic stability and global growth by encouraging countries to adopt sound economic and financial policies. To do this, it regularly monitors global, regional, and national economic developments. It also seeks to assess the impact of the policies of individual countries on other economies. This process of monitoring and discussing countries economic and financial policies is known as bilateral surveillance. On a regular basisusually once each yearthe IMF conducts in depth appraisals of each member countrys economic situation. It discusses with the countrys authorities the policies that are most conducive to a stable and prosperous economy, drawing on experience across its membership. Member countries may agree to publish the IMFs assessment of their economies, with the vast majority of countries opting to do so. The IMF also carries out extensive analysis of global and regional economic trends, known as multilateral surveillance. Its key outputs are three semi-annual publications, the World Economic Outlook, the Global Financial Stability Report, and the Fiscal Monitor. The IMF also publishes a series of regional economic outlooks. The IMF recently agreed on a series of actions to enhance multilateral, financial, and bilateral surveillance, including to better integrate the three; improve our understanding of spill overs and the assessment of emerging and potential risks; and strengthen IMF policy advice. Technical assistance and training IMF offers technical assistance and training to help member countries strengthen their capacity to design and implement effective policies. Technical assistance is offered in several areas, including fiscal policy, monetary and exchange rate policies, banking and financial system supervision and regulation, and statistics. The IMF provides technical assistance and training mainly in four areas: monetary and financial policies (monetary policy instruments, banking system supervision and restructuring, foreign management and operations, clearing settlement systems for payments, and structural development of central banks); fiscal policy and management (tax and customs policies and administration, budget formulation, expenditure management, design of social safety nets, and management of domestic and foreign debt); compilation, management, dissemination, and improvement of statistical data; and economic and financial legislation.

Lending IMF financing provides member countries the breathing room they need to correct balance of payments problems. A policy program supported by financing is designed by the national authorities in close cooperation with the IMF. Continued financial support is conditional on the effective implementation of this program. In the most recent reforms, IMF lending instruments were improved further to provide flexible crisis prevention tools to a broad range of members with sound fundamentals, policies, and institutional policy frameworks. In low-income countries, the IMF has doubled loan access limits and is boosting its lending to the worlds poorer countries, with loans at a concessional interest rate. Research and data Supporting all three of these activities is the IMFs economic and financial research and statistics. In recent years, the IMF has applied both its surveillance and technical assistance work to the development of standards and codes of good practice in its areas of responsibility, and to the strengthening of financial sectors. These are part of the IMFs continuing efforts to strengthen national and global financial systems and improve its ability to prevent and resolve crises.

Governance Structure
Board of Governors The Board of Governors is the highest decision-making body of the IMF. It consists of one governor and one alternate governor for each member country. The governor is appointed by the member country and is usually the minister of finance or the head of the central bank. While the Board of Governors has delegated most of its powers to the IMF's Executive Board, it retains the right to approve quota increases, special drawing right (SDR) allocations, the admittance of new members, compulsory withdrawal of members, and amendments to the Articles of Agreement and By-Laws. The Board of Governors also elects or appoints executive directors and is the ultimate arbiter on issues related to the interpretation of the IMF's Articles of Agreement. Voting by the Board of Governors usually takes place by mail-in ballot. The Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank Group normally meet once a year, during the IMF-World Bank Spring and Annual Meetings, to discuss the work of their respective institutions. The Meetings, which take place in September or October, have customarily been held in Washington for two consecutive years and in another member country in the third year.

Ministerial Committees The IMF Board of Governors is advised by two ministerial committees, the International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) and the Development Committee. The IMFC has 24 members, drawn from the pool of 187 governors. Its structure mirrors that of the Executive Board and its 24 constituencies. As such, the IMFC represents all the member countries of the Fund. The IMFC meets twice a year, during the Spring and Annual Meetings. The Committee discusses matters of common concern affecting the global economy and also advises the IMF on the direction its work. At the end of the Meetings, the Committee issues a joint communiqu summarizing its views. These communiqus provide guidance for the IMF's work program during the six months leading up to the next Spring or Annual Meetings. There is no formal voting at the IMFC, which operates by consensus. The Development Committee is a joint committee, tasked with advising the Boards of Governors of the IMF and the World Bank on issues related to economic development in emerging and developing countries. The committee has 24 members (usually ministers of finance or development). It represents the full membership of the IMF and the World Bank and mainly serves as a forum for building intergovernmental consensus on critical development issues. The Executive Board The IMF's 24-member Executive Board takes care of the daily business of the IMF. Together, these 24 board members represent all 187 countries. Large economies, such as the United States and China, have their own seat at the table but most countries are grouped in constituencies representing 4 or more countries. The largest constituency includes 24 countries. The Board discusses everything from the IMF staff's annual health checks of member countries' economies to economic policy issues relevant to the global economy. The board normally makes decisions based on consensus but sometimes formal votes are taken. At the end of most formal discussions, the Board issues what is known as a summing up, which summarizes its views. Informal discussions may be held to discuss complex policy issues still at a preliminary stage. Governance Reform To be effective, the IMF must be seen as representing the interests of all its 187 member countries. For this reason, it is crucial that its governance structure reflect todays world economy. In 2010, the IMF agreed wide-ranging governance reforms to reflect the increasing importance of emerging market countries. The reforms also ensure that smaller developing countries will retain their influence in the IMF.