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A Look at the International Monetary Fund

来源:The Associated Press 作者: 时间:2009-04-07 Tag:IMF   点击:

April 2, 2009 (AP)

Widely dismissed as a marginal(不重要的) player six months ago, the International Monetary Fund had become the world's economic firefighter(消防队员) with no blazes to put out. Today's global financial crisis has put the IMF back to work. In recent months, the IMF has lent more than $50 billion to shore up(支撑住) struggling, capital starved countries.

HISTORY — The IMF, also known as the fund, was conceived(构想) at a U.N. conference in Bretton Woods, N.H.(New Hampshire,美国新罕布什尔州), in July 1944. The 45 governments represented sought to build a framework for economic cooperation that would avoid a repetition of the vicious circle of competitive currency devaluations(货币贬值) that had contributed to the Great Depression.

RECENT DEVELOPMENTS — In the 1990s and early 2000s, the IMF helped countries in Asia and Latin America deal with financial meltdowns(彻底垮台) and assisted in rescuing Russia. As the global economy picked up in the early 2000s, demand for IMF loans fell as bilateral(双边的) aid and grants picked up. But that source of money dried up as the financial crisis rippled(泛起涟漪) out from the United States, slowing economic growth and trade around the world.

ACTIVITIES — The fund's job is to promote economic stability, help prevent crises and help resolve them when they occur, thereby promoting growth and alleviating(缓和) poverty. Its three main activities——surveillance(监视), technical assistance and lending —— are intended to meet these goals.

Surveillance: Involves monitoring economic and financial developments and the provision of policy advice, aimed especially at crisis prevention.

Lending: Makes loans to countries with balance of payment difficulties to provide temporary financing aimed at correcting underlying problems; loans to low-income countries are also aimed especially at poverty reduction.

Technical assistance: Provides training in its areas of economic expertise(专门知识) to member countries' finance and economic ministries.

The IMF also plays an important role in the fight against money-laundering(洗黑钱) and terrorism.

LEADERSHIP — The fund is headed by Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a socialist former French finance minister and presidential candidate, often referred to in French and English by his initials, DSK.

MEMBERSHIP — 185 countries.

CRITICISM — Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak once referred to the IMF as the international misery fund because of the belt-tightening(强制性节约的) conditions that accompanied its loans. In recent years the IMF has sought to make it easier for countries to obtain loans by easing these conditions. But even the fund's fiercest critics agree the IMF is back in the lending business.

POVERTY REDUCTION — The IMF makes loans and grants to the world's poorest nations, working closely with its sister organization, the World Bank, whose headquarters is across the street from the IMF in Washington.

RESOURCES — Funds are provided by member countries, mainly through the payment of quotas(定额), which broadly reflect each country's economic size. The United States is the biggest shareholder.

GOVERNANCE — Board of governors in overall charge. Day-to-day operations conducted in Washington by 24-member executive board led by Strauss-Kahn, who also supervises a staff of 2,490 people from 143 countries.

CURRENCY — The IMF has a type of currency known as Special Drawing Rights held by its members based on their quotas that can be exchanged if needed for four currencies, euros, dollars, yens and pounds.

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