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International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.

Abstract

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.

International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.

Abstract

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 (Box 2.1).

International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.

Abstract

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.

International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.

Abstract

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).

International Monetary Fund. Finance Dept.

Abstract

The IMF’s Articles of Agreement call for adequate safeguards for the temporary use of its resources.1 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.

Ms. Catherine A Pattillo, Mr. Andrew Berg, Mr. Gian M Milesi-Ferretti, and Mr. Eduardo Borensztein

Abstract

Recent years have witnessed an increase in the frequency of currency and balance of payments crises in developing countries. More important, the crises have become more virulent, have caused widespread disruption to other developing countries, and have even had repercussions on advanced economies. To predict crises, their causes must be clearly understood. Two competing strands of theories are reviewed in this paper. The first focuses on the consequences of such policies as excessive credit growth in provoking depletion of foreign exchange reserves and making a devaluation enevitable. The second emphasizes the trade-offs between internal and external balance that the policymaker faces in defending a peg.

Mr. Paolo Mauro, Mr. Torbjorn I. Becker, Mr. Jonathan David Ostry, Mr. Romain Ranciere, and Mr. Olivier D Jeanne

Abstract

This paper focuses on what countries can do on their own—that is, on the role of domestic policies—with respect to country insurance. Member countries are routinely faced with a range of shocks that can contribute to higher volatility in aggregate output and, in extreme cases, to economic crises. The presence of such risks underlies a potential demand for mechanisms to soften the blow from adverse economic shocks. For all countries, the first line of defense against adverse shocks is the pursuit of sound policies. In light of the large costs experienced by emerging markets and developing countries as a result of past debt crises, fiscal policies should seek to improve sustainability, taking into account that sustainable debt levels seem to be lower in emerging and developing countries than in advanced countries. Although much can be accomplished by individual countries through sound policies, risk management, and self-insurance through reserves, collective insurance arrangements are likely to continue playing a key role in cushioning countries from the impact of shocks.