Front Matter

Front Matter

Margaret De Vries
Published Date:
June 1986
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© 1986 International Monetary Fund

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

De Vries, Margaret Garritsen, 1922—

The IMF in a changing world, 1945–85.

Bibliography: p.

1. International Monetary Fund—History. I. Title.

HG3881.5.158D39 1986 332.1′52 86–2861

ISBN 9780939934652

Your governments have accepted the Bretton Woods plans and have placed substantial funds at your disposal to carry them out. Let us put both the plans and the funds to work.

President Harry S. Truman,

in a message to the Board of Governors,

September 27, 1946


During the past twenty years I have written numerous articles describing particular topics or phases of the Fund’s history for publication in Finance & Development and the IMF Survey. Most of these articles were written to commemorate a special occasion, for example, the departure of a Managing Director, or the fortieth anniversary of the Bretton Woods Conference of 1944. Others were written to explain developments in the world economy and in the international monetary system against which the Fund was developing and implementing its policies.

In looking over those articles, I realized that they covered most of the major developments in the Fund’s evolution in the forty plus years since Bretton Woods. They thus represented a minihistory of the Fund. In the belief that many readers will find a broad picture of the growth and change of the Fund useful, I have pulled together this selection of 18 articles and grouped them into five parts that trace the evolution of the Fund chronologically from July 1944 to December 1985.

Because the articles were written over a long period of time, some revising and updating have been necessary. I have added a brief overview to each part of the book and, in the first four parts, a detailed chronology of the principal events to fill in important lacunae in the developments of the Fund not covered in the articles. Needless to say, some repetition of the main events is inevitable.

Part One, “Attaining Initial Objectives,” covers the years from the time of the Fund’s creation at the Bretton Woods Conference of 1944 through 1965. These were the years in which international monetary cooperation took shape. By trial and error, and with eventual success, the Fund formed and implemented policies that enabled it, by 1965, to attain most of the objectives for which it was created. In Part Two, “Trying To Save the System,” the Fund’s efforts from 1966 to 1971 to keep the par value system functioning smoothly are recounted. Threats centered first around expected shortages of international liquidity and then around repeated crises in exchange rates. Part Three, “Operating in a Troubled World Economy,” describes the events from 1972 to 1978 that led to the ultimate collapse of the par value system and its replacement by floating rates, the sharp increase in inflation, higher oil prices, and unprecedented payments deficits, as well as the Fund’s actions during this most turbulent economic period since World War II. Part Four, “Responding to the Debt Crisis,” takes the Fund’s story from 1979 to 1985, focusing primarily on the Fund’s responses to the world debt crisis that suddenly erupted in August 1982. Part Five, “Looking Back at Forty Years,” concludes with a single article that presents a broad view of the Fund’s development over the entire forty-year period.

For those who might like to explore further some of the subjects covered, a list of selected reading is given on page 226.

The views expressed are mine and should not be construed in any way as being those of the Fund.

January 1986

Margaret Garritsen de Vries


International Monetary Fund


I am appreciative of the encouragement for doing this volume that I have received from my colleagues, especially Norman K. Humphreys, Chief Editor, and Ian S. McDonald, Acting Chief of the Editorial Division. I am grateful also for the invaluable services of Faye L. Olin, my editorial assistant for the past ten years. Juanita Roushdy gave the manuscript a final careful editing, suggested several improvements in style and exposition, and coordinated the production. Luzmaria Valencia cheerfully used the word processor to type, retype, and correct the manuscript. The book was typeset in the Composition Unit of the Fund’s Graphics Section, and the cover was designed by the Art Unit.

M.G. de V.

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