The International Monetary Fund (IMF), is a supranational lending institution whose primary mission lies in furnishing short-term credit for countries suffering balance of payments deficits. Balance of payment deficits occur when a country’s outflow of money from transactions with foreign countries exceeds its inflow. Like its sister institution, the World Bank, the IMF was born of the Breton Woods Conference. That 1944 meeting of international monetary officials put foreign exchange markets under a system of fixed exchange rates—a system that lasted until 1971. The IMF began operations in 1946 and in 1964 it founded its headquarters in Washington, D.C. Although the mission of the World Bank lay in financing development and reconstruction projects, the IMF bore responsibility for loaning foreign currency reserves to countries on a short-term basis.