Tearing Down Walls: The International Monetary Fund 1990–1999

In This Review

Tearing Down Walls: The International Monetary Fund 1990-1999
by James M. Boughton
International Monetary Fund, 2012
968 pp. $90.00

This massive tome is the fifth in a series of official histories of the International Monetary Fund, made possible by the author’s access to internal IMF documents. The decade of the 1990s was an exciting period in international finance, and Boughton captures that excitement well. The Warsaw Pact collapsed and the Soviet Union unraveled, and most of the new states that emerged abandoned central planning and engaged with the market-oriented world economy, with plenty of technical advice from the IMF. In 1994, Mexico suffered a major financial crisis, which threatened to spread to other developing countries in Latin America. In 1997, financial crises broke out in several hitherto exemplary Asian economies, followed by emergencies in Brazil and Russia in 1998. The IMF was heavily involved in all of those episodes, often breaking new ground in its own procedures and in the magnitude of its financial support to troubled economies. Boughton tells these stories skillfully, sometimes with revealing insights into the inner workings of the IMF. His book will become a standard reference source on the organization.