(proper) An international organization, established by the United Nations, to promote monetary cooperation, international trade, and exchange stability and to help equalize balance of payments by allowing members to draw from its fund.
An international organization whose purpose is to ensure the stability of the international financial system. Specifically, the IMF promotes international monetary cooperation, international trade, and exchange rate stability; the organization also assists member countries that are having trouble paying their debt obligations. The IMF was first proposed in July 1944 at a United Nations conference held at Bretton Woods, N.H. Those at the conference were looking for a way to cooperate economically in order to avoid another Great Depression. The organization came into existence on December 27, 1945, when its articles of agreement were signed. It began financial operations on March 1, 1947. The IMF is composed of 184 countries. It is managed by an Executive Board consisting of 24 Executive Directors, head-quartered in Washington, D.C. Its Executive Board meets as least three times a week in formal sessions. Today, the IMF has three main functions. One is to appraise its members’ exchange rate policies, in what is called an Article IV consultation. The IMF surveys its members’ economic and exchange rate policies because it believes this will lead to stable exchange rates and a growing world economy. The IMF also provides financial and technical assistance to member countries.