Journal Article

The international monetary fund in historical perspective

RM Lastra

in Journal of International Economic Law

Volume 3, issue 3, pages 507-523
Published in print September 2000 | ISSN: 1369-3034
Published online September 2000 | e-ISSN: 1464-3758 | DOI:
The international monetary fund in historical perspective

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The International Monetary Fund was set up in 1944 in a context of war, with the memories of hyperinflation, depression, and fluctuating exchange rates still fresh. The institution - though never exempt from criticism - has arguably served the international community well over the years, demonstrating a tremendous ability to adjust to new economic circumstances. Despite the abandonment of the par value regime in the 1970s, the importance of the IMF has remained undiminished. The IMF played a leading role in the sovereign debt restructuring of the LDC countries in the 1980s, in the transition to a market economy of formerly communist countries in the early 1990s, and in the resolution of financial crises in Mexico and Asia in the mid- to late 1990s, though its handling of such crises has been the subject of much controversy. This paper provides a historical primer on the IMF and considers some of the challenges the institution faces as we enter the twenty-first century. In particular, it questions the wisdom of granting the IMF a formal international lender of last resort role; it suggests that surveillance be extended beyond macro-economic policies to [micro] prudential financial supervision; and surveys the evolution and 'relaxation' of conditionality over the years.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Financial Law ; Public International Law ; Economics

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