In 1983, an important academic initiative undertaken by Professor Samir Makdisi came to fruition when, with financial support of five leading Lebanese banks, the Institute of Money and Banking (IMB) was established at AUB as an independent academic unit within the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. One of its main objectives was to enhance the level of banking and financial knowledge and expertise in Lebanon and the region via teaching, research work, and the hosting of seminars, conferences, as well as public lectures by experts from outside the university. A Master's degree in Money and Banking (MMB), offered by the IMB, was introduced effective October 1984, and was the first graduate degree of its kind in the Arab World.
Effective October 2001, the IMB was restructured as the Institute of Financial Economics (IFE) which was to be fully engaged in research work, seminars, and workshops. Its primary research fields are financial, monetary, and international economics, but can also extend to closely related macroeconomics and econometrics topics, with a focus on the MENA region. The MMB was restructured as a Master of Arts in Financial Economics (MAFE) offered by the Department of Economics. In 2003 the Institute initiated a guest lecture and working paper series. The working papers incorporate preliminary findings of ongoing research being undertaken at the Institute and elsewhere. In 2017, the IFE launched its Symposium Series on Economic Policy, which has experienced huge success so far.
Administratively, the Institute, which has its own endowment fund, is an independent academic entity within the FAS. Personnel include the Director, the Institute Secretary, and a number of Fellows who are appointed by the Dean on the recommendation of the Director. A number of graduate research assistants are appointed each year to help in research projects sponsored by the Institute.