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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) works to foster international monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world. Created in 1945, the IMF is governed by and accountable to the 188 countries that make up its near-global membership.
Why the IMF was created and how it works
The IMF, also known as the "Fund," was conceived at a United Nations conference convened in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, in July 1944. The 44 governments represented at that conference sought to build a framework for economic cooperation that would avoid a repetition of the vicious circle of competitive devaluations that had contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The IMF's responsibilities: The IMF's primary purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system—the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables countries (and their citizens) to transact with one another. This system is essential for promoting sustainable economic growth, increasing living standards, and reducing poverty. The Fund's mandate has recently been clarified and updated to cover the full range of macroeconomic and financial sector issues that bear on global stability.
Fast Facts on the IMF
  • Membership: 188 countries
  • Headquarters: Washington, D.C.
  • Executive Board: 24 Directors representing countries or groups of countries
  • Staff: Approximately 2,503 from 144 countries
  • Total quotas: US$360 billion (as of 3/14/13)
  • Additional pledged or committed resources: US$1 trillion
  • Loans committed (as of 3/7/13): US$226 billion, of which US$166 billion have not been drawn
  • Biggest borrowers (amount agreed as of 3/7/13): Greece, Portugal, Ireland
  • Biggest precautionary loans (amount agreed as of 3/7/13): Mexico, Poland, Colombia
  • Surveillance consultations: In 2011, 122 consultations were discussed and in 2012, 123 consultations were discussed
  • Technical assistance: Field delivery in FY2012-246 person years
  • Transparency: In 2012, about 91 percent of Article IV and program-related staff reports and policy papers were published (as of 3/20/2013)
  • Original aims: Article I of the Articles of Agreement sets out the IMF's main goals: promoting international monetary cooperation;
  • facilitating the expansion and balanced growth of international trade; promoting exchange stability;
  • assisting in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments; and
  • making resources available (with adequate safeguards) to members experiencing balance of payments difficulties.