The International Monetary Fund (IMF) features prominently in today's media. Its visible and contentious involvement in the Asian crisis have attracted inordinate media attention both good and bad. On one end of the scale, it has been portrayed as an institutionalized financial messiah, whose mere presence is able to resurrect emaciated economies and restore the public's confidence. However, at the same time it is also regarded as a Western-dominated financial bludgeon whose measures are aimed to break open developing economies for foreign pickings.Such disparate and extreme opinions are often underscored by a common want of understanding of the primary aims and functions of the IMF. Despite the IMF's prominence and its crucial participation in resuscitating these ailing Asian economies, its exact functions and operations remain an enigma to many. This book provides an easily digestible overview of the institution and its half-century of development, with an emphasis on its more current role in Asia. With the relentless trend towards a more integrated and developed global economy, the IMF's relevance will no doubt be accentuated. This institution's increasing visibility in world economic and social affairs will make knowledge about the organization and its activities an indispensable asset.