The International Monetary Fund—also known as the “IMF” or the “Fund”—was conceived at a United Nations conference convened in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, U.S. in July 1944. The 45 governments represented at that conference sought to build a framework for economic cooperation that would avoid a repetition of the vicious circle of competitive devaluations that had contributed to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The IMF is the world's central organization for international monetary cooperation. It is an organization in which almost all countries in the world work together to promote the common good.
The IMF's primary purpose is to ensure the stability of the international monetary system—the system of exchange rates and international payments that enables countries (and their citizens) to buy goods and services from each other. This is essential for sustainable economic growth and rising living standards.
To maintain stability and prevent crises in the international monetary system, the IMF reviews national, regional, and global economic and financial developments. It provides advice to its 184 member countries, encouraging them to adopt policies that foster economic stability, reduce their vulnerability to economic and financial crises, and raise living standards, and serves as a forum where they can discuss the national, regional, and global consequences of their policies.
The IMF also makes financing temporarily available to member countries to help them address balance of payments problems—that is, when they find themselves short of foreign exchange because their payments to other countries exceed their foreign exchange earnings.
And it provides technical assistance and training to help countries build the expertise and institutions they need for economic stability and growth.