The World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

What is the difference between the World Bank Group and the IMF?

Founded at the Bretton Woods conference in 1944, the two institutions have complementary missions. The World Bank Group works with developing countries to reduce poverty and increase shared prosperity, while the International Monetary Fund serves to stabilize the international monetary system and acts as a monitor of the world’s currencies. The World Bank Group provides financing, policy advice, and technical assistance to governments, and also focuses on strengthening the private sector in developing countries. The IMF keeps track of the economy globally and in member countries, lends to countries with balance of payments difficulties, and gives practical help to members.  Countries must first join the IMF to be eligible to join the World Bank Group; today, each institution has 189 member countries.

The World Bank Group

The World Bank Group is one of the world’s largest sources of funding and knowledge for developing countries. Its five institutions share a commitment to reducing poverty, increasing shared prosperity, and promoting sustainable development.

Together, IBRD and IDA form the World Bank, which provides financing, policy advice, and technical assistance to governments of developing countries.  IDA focuses on the world’s poorest countries, while IBRD assists middle-income and creditworthy poorer countries. 

IFC, MIGA, and ICSID focus on strengthening the private sector in developing countries.  Through these institutions, the World Bank Group provides financing, technical assistance, political risk insurance, and settlement of disputes to private enterprises, including financial institutions.

The International Monetary Fund

The IMF works to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty around the world.

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 transact with each other. It does so by keeping track of the global economy and the economies of member countries, lending to countries with balance of payments difficulties, and giving practical help to members.