The International Monetary Fund has a key position in promoting the health of the world economy. Established in 1944 as a part of the United Nations system, 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 conducts surveillance of national, regional, and global economic and financial developments. It provides advice to its 189 member countries, encouraging them to adopt policies that foster economic stability, reduce their vulnerability to economic and financial crises, and raise living standards. The IMF also serves as a forum where its global membership can discuss the national, regional, and global consequences of their policies.
The IMF 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 to meet their payments to other countries.
Finally, the IMF provides countries with training to help them build the expertise and institutions they need for economic stability and growth. Supporting all of these activities is the institution's work in economic research and statistics.