Surveillance is at the core of the IMF’s mandate. The IMF is responsible, under its Articles of Agreement, for overseeing the international monetary system to identify any vulnerabilities that could undermine its stability. It fulfills this responsibility in part by monitoring the macroeconomic policies of its 185 member countries and providing analysis and policy advice tailored to each member’s specific circumstances (referred to as bilateral surveillance) and monitoring economic conditions and developments in international capital markets and assessing the global effects of major economic and financial developments, such as oil market conditions or external imbalances (multilateral surveillance). These activities are supplemented by the Fund’s surveillance of regional institutions that conduct monetary and economic policy for groups of countries bound together in formal arrangements, such as currency unions (regional surveillance; see Box 3.1). As financial markets experienced exceptional turbulence, growth slowed dramatically in some of the advanced economies, and world prices for food and oil soared during FY2008, the IMF’s Executive Board intensified its efforts to further strengthen and modernize the Fund’s surveillance activities.15