The International Monetary Fund 50 Years after Bretton Woods

by Norman S. Fieleke
September/October 1994

In July 1944 at Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, delegates from 44 nations agreed upon an international monetary system to be established following World War II. At the heart of the system was the International Monetary Fund, which was to foster economic prosperity by promoting international monetary cooperation, orderly exchange-rate arrangements, restriction-free multilateral payments, and efficient balance-ofpayments adjustment.

This article surveys the functioning of the IMF, focusing on recent experience. The article discusses the means and methods the IMF has employed to achieve its goals and the degree of success it has attained. One conclusion is that the IMF's goals should be expanded to include the abolition of restrictions on payments for international capital, as well as current transactions. In addition, the organization should issue fairly detailed evaluations of its lending activities--which seem to have had very limited success--and of its technical assistance programs.

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