The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
Egypt’s nationalization of the Suez Canal in 1956 and the failed attempt by France, Israel, and Britain to retake it by force constituted a serious political crisis with significant economic consequences. For the United Kingdom, it engendered a financial crisis as well. That all four of the combatants sought and obtained financial assistance from the IMF was highly unusual for the time and had a profound effect on the development of the Fund. This case study illustrates the complexities in isolating the current account as the basis for determining a balance of payments “need” and shows that the speculative attack on sterling—and the Fund’s response to it—were remarkably similar to financial crises in the 1990s.