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The Imf: A Bird'S Eye View Of Its Role And Operations

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  • Graham Bird

Abstract

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the world's premier international financial institution with 184 member countries and active programmes in a significant number of them at any one time. The Fund attracts a great deal of attention, much of it critical. But the discussion is often polemic in style. Strongly held, but frequently opposing, views are expressed. This survey attempts to examine, in an objective way, the theory and evidence relating to the Fund's operations. Many aspects of the empirical research are relatively recent and a universal consensus is yet to emerge; as a consequence there is scope for disagreement to persist. However, the research is also gradually clarifying many important issues. The format for the survey is to examine the life cycle of IMF arrangements. What makes a country turn to the Fund for assistance? Should the IMF be lending? What influences the outcome of negotiations and the design of programmes? Are IMF programmes effective? And why do some countries make prolonged use of IMF resources? For completeness there is also some discussion of the history of the IMF, the extent to which Fund policies have been influenced by advances in economic theory and the Fund's systemic role. Important organisational and governance issues are also covered briefly. Although primarily adopting an economist's perspective, the survey reflects the growing recognition that in order to understand the IMF's operations, economics has to be combined with politics. Examining the IMF is an exercise in applied political economy. Copyright 2007 The Author. Journal compilation © 2007 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Graham Bird, 2007. "The Imf: A Bird'S Eye View Of Its Role And Operations," Journal of Economic Surveys, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 21(4), pages 683-745, September.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jecsur:v:21:y:2007:i:4:p:683-745
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    JEL classification:

    • F32 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - Current Account Adjustment; Short-term Capital Movements
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions

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