The International Monetary Found (IMF)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization that oversees the global financial system by observing exchange rates and balance of payments, as well as offering financial and technical assistance. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C., USA.
Organization and purpose
Headquarters in Washington D.C.
The IMF describes itself as "an organization of 185 countries (Montenegro being the 185th, as of January 18, 2007), working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty". With the exception of North Korea, Cuba, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Tuvalu, and Nauru, all UN member states participate directly in the IMF. Some are represented by other member states on a 24-member Executive Board but all member countries are members of the IMF's Board of Governors.
In the Great Depression of the 1930s, economic activity in the major industrial nations slumped. Ricardian comparative advantage states that all countries gain from trade without restrictions. It is noteworthy to mention that, although the "size of the pie" is enhanced according to this theory of free trade, improving all industries, when distributional concerns are taken into account, there are always industries that lose out even as others benefit in any given country.
As World War II came to a close, the leading allied countries considered various plans to restore order to international monetary relations, and at the Bretton Woods conference the IMF emerged. The founding members drafted a charter (or Articles of Agreement) of an international institution to oversee the international monetary system and to promote both the elimination of exchange restrictions relating to trade in goods and services, and the stability of exchange rates.
The IMF came into life on December
when the first 29 countries signed its Articles of Agreement. The statutory
purposes of the IMF today are the same as when they were formulated in 1944 (see
From the end
War II until the late-1970s, the capitalist world experienced
unprecedented growth in real
incomes. (Since then, the integration of China
and Eastern and
In the decades since World War II, apart from rising prosperity, the world economy and monetary system have undergone other major changes that have increased the importance and relevance of the purposes served by the IMF, but that has also required the IMF to adapt and reform. Rapid advances in technology and communications have contributed to the increasing international integration of markets and to closer linkages among national economies. As a result, financial crises, when they erupt, now tend to spread more rapidly among countries.
The IMF's influence in the global economy steadily increased as it accumulated more members. The number of IMF member countries has more than quadrupled from the 44 states involved in its establishment, reflecting in particular the attainment of political independence by many developing countries and more recently the collapse of the Soviet bloc. The expansion of the IMF's membership, together with the changes in the world economy, have required the IMF to adapt in a variety of ways to continue serving its purposes effectively.
During April 2007 Ecuador announced its intention to withdraw from the IMF, followed by Venezuela which made this step public on April 30, 2007. As of September 2007, both countries have continued their membership status.
 Data Dissemination Systems
IMF Data Dissemination Systems participants:
IMF member using SDDS
IMF member, using GDDS
IMF member, not using any of the DDSystems
non-IMF entity using SDDS
non-IMF entity using GDDS
no interaction with the IMF
In 1995, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) began work on data dissemination standards with the view of guiding IMF member countries to disseminate their economic and financial data to the public. The International Monetary and Financial Committee (IMFC) endorsed the guidelines for the dissemination standards and they were split into two tiers: The General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) and the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS).
The IMF executive board approved the SDDS and GDDS in 1996 and 1997 respectively and subsequent amendments were published in a revised "Guide to the General Data Dissemination System". The system is aimed primarily at statisticians and aims to improve many aspects of statistical systems in a country. It is also part of the World Bank Millennium Development Goals and Poverty Reduction Strategic Papers.
The IMF established a system and standard to guide members in the dissemination to the public of their economic and financial data. Currently there are two such systems: General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) and its superset Special Data Dissemination System (SDDS), for those member countries having or seeking access to international capital markets.
The primary objective of the GDDS is to encourage IMF member countries to build a framework to improve data quality and increase statistical capacity building. This will involve the preparation of metadata describing current statistical collection practices and setting improvement plans. Upon building a framework, a country can evaluate statistical needs, set priorities in improving the timeliness, transparency, reliability and accessibility of financial and economic data.
Some countries initially used the GDDS, but lately upgraded to SDDS.
Some entities that are not themselves IMF members also contribute statistical data to the systems:
Any country may apply for membership to the IMF. The application will be considered first by the IMF's Executive Board. After its consideration, the Executive Board will submit a report to the Board of Governors of the IMF with recommendations in the form of a "Membership Resolution." These recommendations cover the amount of quota in the IMF, the form of payment of the subscription, and other customary terms and conditions of membership. After the Board of Governors has adopted the "Membership Resolution," the applicant state needs to take the legal steps required under its own law to enable it to sign the IMF's Articles of Agreement and to fulfil the obligations of IMF membership.
A member's quota in the IMF determines the amount of its subscription, its voting weight, its access to IMF financing, and its allocation of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs). A member state cannot unilaterally increase its quota - increases must be approved by the Executive Board and are linked to formulas that include many variables such as the size of a country in the world economy. For example, in 2001, China was prevented from increasing its quota as high as it wished, ensuring it remained at the level of the smallest G7 economy (Canada). Since then, its contribution has been allowed to be increased slightly further.
As of 2006, participating nations were discussing changes to the voting formula, to increase equity.
IMF Members' Quotas and Voting Power, and IMF Board of Governors
Table showing the top 20 member countries in terms of voting power:
Assistance and reforms
The primary mission of the Imf is to provide financial assistance to countries that experienced serious financial difficulties. Member states with balance of payments problems may request loans and/or organizational management of their national economies.In return the countyes