Part One: Overview
- International Monetary Fund
- Published Date:
- October 2017
About the IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a global organization of 189 member countries set up to promote the health of the world economy. It works to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.
The IMF, which oversees the international monetary system to ensure its effective operation, has among its key purposes to promote exchange rate stability and to facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade. The IMF’s mission enables countries (and their citizens) to buy goods and services from one another and is essential for achieving sustainable economic growth and raising living standards.
All IMF member countries are represented on its Executive Board, which discusses the national, regional, and global consequences of each member’s economic policies and approves IMF loans to help member countries address temporary balance of payments problems, as well as capacity-building efforts. This Annual Report covers the activities of the Executive Board and IMF management and staff during the financial year May 1, 2016, through April 30, 2017. The contents reflect the views and policy discussions of the IMF Executive Board, which has actively participated in preparation of this Annual Report.
Message from the Managing Director
Every year presents the IMF membership with fresh hopes and new challenges. The period between May 2016 and April 2017—our financial year 2017—was no exception.
After several years of disappointing growth, the global economy began building momentum. Advanced, emerging market, and some low-income developing countries were buoyed by the cyclical upturn. Most importantly, employment growth returned to many economies.
Underneath this welcome news, however, lie some deep uncertainties about the future of the postwar global economic and financial order. These reflect several challenges that the IMF and its membership face over the next few years.
The first challenge we face is to sustain that momentum. The IMF membership continues to endorse the three-pronged approach that I described in the 2016 Annual Report—the country-specific combination of monetary support, growth-friendly fiscal policies, and structural reforms that can produce an essential lift to the world economy. This approach is making a difference in building resilience to the vulnerabilities that have so concerned our membership.
But that is only one crucial issue. The past year also highlighted challenges that have become more apparent since the 2008 global financial crisis and require greater focus—concerns rooted in the job losses and disruptions of an era of rapid economic, technological, and social change. They are most evident in the worries about rising inequality.
Inequality has implications for all countries, and in many of them is compounded by weak performance compared to precrisis trends. It is essential that the international community undertake a concerted effort to make growth stronger, more sustainable, and more inclusive. The IMF is deeply committed to playing its role in building a global economy that benefits all people—with policy advice, knowledge sharing, and financial support. This includes essential work on gender inequality.
A core issue behind weaker growth trends is the measurable decline of productivity across economies that stems from several causes. These include the aging of many societies—including in some emerging market economies, the declining benefits from the information technology revolution, and slower trade growth.
Our work on these challenges—slower trade, declining productivity, gender inequality, and inclusive growth—is a central focus of this Annual Report, as outlined in the Spotlights section.
There are other challenges, of course. For emerging markets, we need to provide substantive advice on financing and managing infrastructure investment and building fiscal frameworks to support strong health and education systems—all of which are essential to their continued economic success. For many low-income developing countries, it means ensuring that they can overcome the impact of the downturn in commodity prices to sustain the solid progress of the past two decades that has lifted millions out of poverty. For countries across the globe, it also means giving focus to crucial issues such as climate change and corruption that affect all their economic fortunes.
Given the range of pressing issues facing IMF member countries, the topics addressed by the IMF Executive Board in the past year—and, by extension, in this Annual Report—are especially important, and include reinforcing the global financial safety net, focusing on macro-financial issues in surveillance, assessing fiscal space, and deepening our capacity development work.
All this work comes under the umbrella of a renewed commitment to international cooperation and integration. The well-being of the world economy and the family of nations depends on an enduring willingness to work together to solve the challenges we face by reinforcing financial stability, reducing global imbalances, and providing the foundation for economic growth that benefits all.
IMF Policy Work
The Managing Director’s April 2017 Global Policy Agenda, following up on the October 2016 Agenda, outlined key IMF policy work undertaken during the year ended April 30, 2017, including the following:
Major policy reviews and analytical work:
Began mainstreaming the assessment of available fiscal space in the IMF’s annual economic health checks
Initiated work to strengthen analytical tools for stepped-up monitoring of structural issues in economic health checks
Analyzed the causes of the global productivity slowdown
Discussed macroeconomic developments and prospects for low-income developing countries
Issued a paper on structural policies and income inequality in low-income developing countries
Continued to highlight domestic revenue mobilization and international tax issues in economic health checks
Examined the economic and market case for state-contingent debt instruments
Reviewed experience with the liberalization and management of capital flows
Reviewed the experience with mainstreaming financial issues into economic health checks
Discussed financial stability issues in countries with Islamic finance systems
Reviewed recent trends in correspondent banking relationships
Reviewed the role of the IMF in boosting resilience to natural disasters and climate change in small states
Explored methods for strengthening the Framework for Post-Program Monitoring
Making multilateralism work for all:
Issued a paper on making trade an engine of growth
Secured the renewal of the New Arrangements to Borrow decision through 2022 and additional commitments for bilateral lending agreements
Looked at the adequacy of the global financial safety net to consider IMF toolkit reforms
Supporting the Global Policy Agenda through capacity development:
Continued to expand activities, with nearly half of all technical assistance going to low-income developing countries and over half of training to emerging and middle-income market economies
Continued to expand the reach of IMF training through online learning, now accounting for about 30 percent of all training participation, and online offerings, including in languages other than English
Enhanced coordination among IMF economic surveillance, lending, and knowledge sharing, especially through the newly opened South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center and the redesign of the training curriculum and course offerings
Continued to develop capacity in issues related to the financial sector, mainly in Africa
Continued work on a capacity development framework for fragile states to support institution building, strengthen the outcome-monitoring and evaluation framework, and enhance coordination with other partners
In collaboration with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations (UN), and World Bank, continued to support work on international taxation issues, including through the Platform for Collaboration on Tax
Worked with partners on tackling the challenges of reaching the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals, including by supporting revenue mobilization; continued to address data and financial sector issues in low-income developing countries, including by launching new funds on data gaps and financial stability; and continued to provide hands-on, field-based follow-up support through the Fund’s network of regional technical assistance centers
The IMF’s Key Roles
The key roles of the IMF are the following:
Provide advice to members on adopting policies that can help them achieve macroeconomic stability, thereby accelerating economic growth and alleviating poverty.
Make financing temporarily available to member countries to help them address balance of payments problems, which include circumstances in which they find themselves short of foreign exchange because their external payments exceed their foreign exchange earnings.
Offer technical assistance and training to countries, at their request, to help them build and strengthen the expertise and institutions they need to implement sound economic policies.
The IMF is headquartered in Washington, DC, and, reflecting its global reach and close ties with its members, also has offices around the world.
Additional information on the IMF and its member countries can be found on the IMF’s website, www.imf.org.