Bretton Woods Project - Critical voices on the World Bank and IMF

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Frequently asked questions

What is the Bretton Woods Project?

Read about the vision, purpose, activities and structure of the Bretton Woods Project.
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What are the Bretton Woods Institutions?

The Bretton Woods Institutions are the World Bank, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). They were set up at a meeting of 43 countries in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, USA in July 1944. Their aims were to help rebuild the shattered postwar economy and to promote international economic cooperation.
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What is the World Bank Group?

The World Bank Group is made up of five institutions, four of which were created after 1944, all sharing a similar mandate of reducing poverty and facilitating economic growth in developing countries. The original institution is the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), often simply known as the World Bank. Other institutions have been added: the International Development Association (IDA); the International Finance Corporation (IFC); the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA); and the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).
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How does the World Bank operate?

The World Bank is the largest public development institution in the world, lending around US$ 25 billion a year to developing countries. The main purposes of the Bank, as outlined in Article One of its Articles of Agreement, are: "to assist in the reconstruction and development of territories of members by facilitating the investment of capital for productive purposes" and "to promote the long-range balanced growth of international trade and the maintenance of equilibrium in balances of payments by encouraging international investment ... thereby assisting in raising the productivity, the standard of living and conditions of labour in their territories".
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Who can borrow from the World Bank?

The World Bank mainly lends to governments, although certain Bank facilities can also provide direct support to private businesses and to non-profit organisations. Middle-income countries and poorer countries termed as "creditworthy" borrow from the IBRD, while the poorest countries borrow from the IDA. Loans granted by IDA are interest-free but borrowers are required to pay a fee of less than one percent of the loan to cover administrative costs.
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How does the IMF operate?

The IMF was conceived primarily as a supervisory institution to promote international monetary cooperation and facilitate the growth of international trade. This is to be achieved through maintaining monetary exchange stability and assisting member countries who are experiencing balance of payments problems.
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What types of financial assistance will the IMF provide?

The IMF provides various types of loans to member governments. Concessional loans are granted to low-income countries at a concessional interest rate through the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF) while non-concessional loans are provided with a market-based interest rate through five mechanisms: the Stand-By Arrangements (SBA); Extended Fund Facility (EFF); Supplemental Reserve Facility (SRF); Contingent Credit Lines (CCL); and the Compensatory Financing Facility (CCF).
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What are the main concerns and criticism about the World Bank and IMF?

Criticism of the World Bank and the IMF encompasses a whole range of issues but they generally centre around concern about the approaches adopted by the World Bank and the IMF in formulating their policies. This includes the social and economic impact these policies have on the population of countries who avail themselves of financial assistance from these two institutions.
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Bretton Woods Project contact details

Where to write, fax or call and how to find us.
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Help with the acronym soup. What is a FSAP? PRSC?

Volunteer opportunities

The Bretton Woods Project periodically recruits volunteers, who play a vital role in the running of the organisation by assisting with administrative and other support tasks. Volunteers also have the opportunity to gain valuable experience by carrying out background research and helping with other aspects of our work, where appropriate.
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Job opportunities

All job vacancies are advertised here on this page.
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New website launched

You are now browsing an archive version of the Bretton Woods Project's website. This site has not been updated since September 2013, but may be used for reference material as the nbew site is being developed. However we suggest you look at the new website:

Recent briefings & reports

Memorandum to the International Development Committee: Inquiry on the Future of UK Development Cooperation  26 June 2013

The Doing Business review: a test of World Bank leadership 24 June 2013

Climate Investment Funds Monitor 7: April 2013  25 April 2013

Working paper: The private sector and climate change adaptation: International Finance Corporation investments under the Pilot Program for Climate Resilience  24 April 2013

The UK's role in the World Bank and IMF: Department for International Development and HM Treasury  13 March 2013

World Bank on jobs: a "significant departure" or "business as usual"? 13 February 2013

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