WHEN ITS ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT WERE DRAWN UP IN 1944, the International Monetary Fund was seen as having two main functions: to oversee the operation of a system of fixed, but adjustable, exchange rates; and to promote the removal of payments restrictions on international trade. Over the years since then, despite the demise of the fixed exchange rate system and a steady decline in payments restrictions, the scope of the Fund's influence has grown. Why should this be?
In broad terms, the answer is to be found in the increasing integration of the world economy. As trade and investment flows have grown, so too have the concerns of the international community for good economic management in individual national economies. ‘Spill-over’ effects have grown in size and importance, and with them the need for a framework to regulate their consequences.