Background Note | HBS Case Collection | March 2011

The International Monetary Fund

by Rafael M. Di Tella, J. Gunnar Trumbull and Natalie Kindred


How the International Monetary Fund (IMF) defined and carried out its mandate has evolved considerably since 1944, when it was founded to serve a vital but narrow function in maintaining the global foreign exchange system and thus enabling international trade. This note gives an overview of the IMF's evolution by describing key phases in its history, including the Bretton Woods system and its collapse, the international debt crisis of the 1980s, the Washington Consensus era, and reform efforts in the 2000s.

Keywords: History; International Finance; Globalized Economies and Regions; Trade; Financial Institutions; Macroeconomics; Financial Services Industry;


Di Tella, Rafael M., J. Gunnar Trumbull, and Natalie Kindred. "The International Monetary Fund." Harvard Business School Background Note 711-040, March 2011.