The International Monetary Fund: Its Present Role in Historical Perspective

57 Pages Posted: 12 Jun 2000 Last revised: 18 Oct 2010

See all articles by Michael D. Bordo

Michael D. Bordo

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Harold James

Princeton University - Department of History; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: June 2000

Abstract

In this paper we describe what the IMF is and what it does. We consider its origins as the guardian of the Bretton Woods adjustable peg exchange rate system and financier of temporary current account deficits for advanced countries, to its present primary roles as development financier and crisis manager for the emerging world. We consider the externalities or market failures that the IMF is believed by many to correct and the public goods that the IMF provides. Critics of the IMF downplay the extent of market failure and the scope of public goods provided. They attach greater importance to market solutions. We consider their views as well. We conclude with a discussion of the case for reform in the light of historical experience.

Suggested Citation

Bordo, Michael D. and James, Harold, The International Monetary Fund: Its Present Role in Historical Perspective (June 2000). NBER Working Paper No. w7724. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=232109

Michael D. Bordo (Contact Author)

Rutgers University, New Brunswick - Department of Economics ( email )

New Brunswick, NJ
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Harold James

Princeton University - Department of History ( email )

Princeton, NJ 08544
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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