The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is one of the leading international organizations designed to secure financial stability (among other missions). It was formed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference, and along with the World Bank, works to improve the economic health of member nations, including making financial resources available. However, there are many critics of the IMF, who believe that globalization is detrimental to the Third World.
Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the IMF claims that it works to foster global growth and economic stability through advice, policy, and financial assistance, especially to developing nations. Originally, the IMF was only supposed to oversee the exchange rate and provide short-term capital. However, this role was altered in 1971 with the introduction of floating exchange rates, forcing the IMF to examine the economic policies of member nations.
Today, the IMF oversees the international monetary and financial systems, monitoring the policies of member nations. These nations contribute to the IMF fund, which stood at $755.7 billion in 2010. In exchange for financial assistance, the IMF insists on economic policy reform, often austerity measures or the devaluation of currency. Critics of the IMF claim that these policies have resulted in a form of economic apartheid, especially in Africa.