IMF History and Conditions
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UC Atlas Home > Economic Globalization > Economic Crises > IMF History

IMF History and Structural Adjustment Conditions

The International Monetary Fund was established, along with the World Bank, at a conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA, in the closing stages of World War II. The participants represented the governments soon to win the war against fascism. They were concerned about the rebuilding of Europe and of the global economic system after a devastating war.

The key debate at Bretton Woods was between the British and US delegations representing, respectively, liberal and conservative visions of global economic institutions. The British delegation, led by Maynard Keynes, imagined that the new IMF should be a cooperative fund which member states could draw upon to maintain economic activity and employment through periodic crises. This view suggested an IMF helping governments to act as the US government had during the New Deal in response to the great recession of the 1930s.

By contrast, the US delegation to Bretton Woods foresaw an IMF more like a bank, making sure that borrowing states could repay their debts on time. This more conservative view was less concerned to avoid recession and unemployment. The US view prevailed, and set the stage for how economic crises have been handled since World War II (Harris 1988).

Since the Second World War, the International Monetary Fund has provided loans to governments facing economic crises. The loans have come to be known as structural adjustment loans because they aim to help borrowing governments adjust the structure of economic activity.

The presence of the IMF as an international lending institution continues to evolve with the changing conditions of globalization. Most recently the IMF has begun to focus its policy-making stratgies to incorporate poverty reduction policies in addition to creating economic stability (New Generation - HIPC)

Pictured above:  The headquarters of the International Monetary Fund. 

To the left:  The Executive Board of the IMF.  Consisting of 24 member countries.  Of which 16 seats are elected for two-year terms.  The United States, Japan, France, United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia and Saudi Arabia have permanent seats.

Additional Resources:

Early History of the International Monetary Fund, 

Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia, 

IMF photos can be found at:



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