Front Matter

Front Matter

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Published Date:
April 2016
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    EVALUATION REPORT

    IEO

    Independent Evaluation Office

    of the International Monetary Fund

    Behind the Scenes with Data at the IMF An IEO Evaluation

    © 2016 International Monetary Fund

    Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Joint Bank-Fund Library

    Names: Wagner, Nancy L. (Nancy Louise) | International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office.

    Title: Behind the scenes with data at the IMF : an IEO evaluation / this report was prepared by an IEO team led by Nancy Wagner.

    Description: Washington, DC : Independent Evaluation Office, International Monetary Fund, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references

    Identifiers: ISBN 978-1-49838-598-5 (paper)

    Subjects: LCSH: Economics, Mathematical. | Finance—Statistics. | Economic indicators. | International Monetary Fund.

    Classification: LCC HB137.B44 2016

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    Contents

    The following conventions are used in this publication:

    • An en dash (–) between years or months (for example, 2015–16 or January–June) indicates the years or months covered, including the beginning and ending years or months; a slash or virgule (/) between years or months (for example, 2015/16) indicates a fiscal or financial year, as does the abbreviation FY (for example, FY2016).

    • “Billion” means a thousand million; “trillion” means a thousand billion.

    As used in this publication, the term “country” does not in all cases refer to a territorial entity that is a state as understood by international law and practice. As used here, the term also covers some territorial entities that are not states but for which statistical data are maintained on a separate and independent basis.

    Some of the documents cited and referenced in this report were not available to the public at the time of publication of this report. Under the current policy on public access to the IMF’s archives, some of these documents will become available 3 or 5 years after their issuance. They may be referenced as EBS/YY/NN and SM/YY/NN, where EBS and SM indicate the series and YY indicates the year of issue. Certain other types of documents may become available 20 years after their issuance. For further information, see www.imf.org/external/np/arc/eng/archive.htm.

    Foreword

    Data issues have long been a source of concern for the IMF. Since the 1980s, IMF staff has presented more than 150 papers on data issues for the Executive Board’s consideration. However, many of the problems raised in the earlier papers remain largely unresolved. Moreover, each of those earlier papers tended to look at just a small slice of the picture regarding data—that is, a piecemeal approach. This report tries to look at data in a holistic manner.

    In particular, we try to look at data from the perspective of the Fund’s role as a global macroeconomic risk manager, that is, its role in (i) crisis prevention/mitigation (surveillance) and (ii) crisis response (lending). Data are essential in discharging these responsibilities, leading to a seemingly simple, yet complex question: “Are data adequate for surveillance and lending?”

    Indeed, problems with data or data practices—missing data, misleading data, or ignoring available data—have at times hampered the Fund’s ability to respond effectively to imminent challenges. As a result, for a time after each crisis, data issues are front and center, resulting in major changes in the Fund’s statistical arsenal. But this attention to data tends to wane after a while, as data become, once again, an afterthought.

    The roots of these problems are diverse, ranging from external (e.g., member country capacity constraints) to internal (e.g., lack of appropriate staff incentives, entrenched work practices). While most of these have been recognized for decades, they are now cast in a different light due to the proliferation of data sources, technological advances, and a surge in demand for multilateral and financial surveillance and cross-country analyses. This presents greater challenges for the Fund, but also greater opportunities for change.

    This evaluation found that noteworthy progress has been made—particularly with external data provision and internal data management—but important obstacles to reform have yet to be tackled. The report thus advocates, first and foremost, that the IMF should design and implement a long-term overarching data strategy, one that goes well beyond data management and recognizes data as a strategic institutional asset. Our other recommendations are important elements of such a strategy, but their implementation could begin in parallel: define and prioritize the IMF’s data needs; reconsider the role and mandate of the IMF’s Statistics Department; reexamine staff incentives; and make clear the IMF’s responsibility regarding the quality of the data it disseminates.

    I am encouraged by the broad agreement, expressed by the Managing Director and the Executive Board, with the findings and recommendations of this report. It is our hope that this report will help catalyze the efforts to address remaining data problems and thereby better support the Fund in delivering on its evolving and more challenging role in today’s increasingly interconnected global economy.

    Moises J. Schwartz

    Director

    Independent Evaluation Office

    Behind the Scenes with Data at the IMF: An IEO Evaluation

    This report was prepared by an IEO team led by Nancy Wagner. The IEO team included Miguel de Las Casas, Chris Monasterski, Roxana Pedraglio, and Thomas Reichmann. The evaluation was informed by background studies prepared by Carlos de Resende, Morten Jerven, Franz Loyola, Tam Nguyen, and members of the evaluation team. The evaluation benefited from discussions with participants—William Alexander, John Boorman, Eduard Brau, Carol Carson, Philip Cross, Donal Donovan, John Hicklin, Russell Kincaid, Anne Krueger, Jin Liqun, Meg Lundsager, David Robinson, Marko Škreb, Hector Torres, Edwin Truman, and Onno Wijnholds—at two workshops that took place in Washington, D.C., and at a workshop in Berlin organized jointly with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval). It also benefited from comments by IMF staff. However, the final judgments are the responsibility of the IEO alone. Arun Bhatnagar, Annette Canizares, and Amy Gamulo provided administrative assistance. Rachel Weaving, Roxana Pedraglio, and Esha Ray provided editorial and production management assistance. The report was approved by Moises Schwartz.

    Abbreviations

    ADV

    advanced economy

    AFR

    African Department (IMF)

    APD

    Asia and Pacific Department (IMF)

    BIS

    Bank for International Settlements

    BSA

    balance sheet analysis

    CDIS

    Coordinated Direct Investment Survey

    CDS

    credit default swap

    CGER

    Consultative Group on Exchange Rate Issues

    COFER

    Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves

    CPI

    consumer price index

    CPIS

    Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey

    CSD

    Common Surveillance Databases

    DGI

    Data Gaps Initiative (G20)

    DMX

    Data Management for Excel

    DQAF

    Data Quality Assessment Framework

    DSBB

    Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board

    EBA

    External Balance Assessment

    ECB

    European Central Bank

    EcOS

    Economic Outlook Suite

    EDGG

    Economic Data Governance Group

    EDMI

    Economic Data Management Initiative

    EDSC

    Economic Data Steering Committee

    EDT

    Economic Data Team

    EDW

    Economic Data Warehouse

    E-GDDS

    Enhanced General Data Dissemination System

    EIU

    Economist Intelligence Unit

    ELSTAT

    Hellenic Statistical Authority

    EME

    emerging market economy

    EU

    European Union

    EUR

    European Department (IMF)

    EWE

    Early Warning Exercise

    FAD

    Fiscal Affairs Department (IMF)

    FIN

    Finance Department (IMF)

    FSA

    Financial Stability Assessment

    FSAP

    Financial Sector Assessment Program

    FSB

    Financial Stability Board

    FSI

    Financial Soundness Indicator

    FSSA

    Financial Sector Stability Assessment

    FTE

    Fiscal Transparency Evaluation

    G20

    A grouping composed of major advanced economies and systemically important emerging market and developing countries

    G-SIFIs

    Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions

    GDDS

    General Data Dissemination System

    GDP

    gross domestic product

    GFSR

    Global Financial Stability Report

    HRD

    Human Resources Department (IMF)

    IAG

    Inter-Agency Group on Economic and Financial Statistics

    IFI

    international financial institution

    IFS

    International Financial Statistics

    IIP

    International Investment Position

    IMDs

    Integrated Monetary Databases

    ITD

    Information Technology Department (IMF)

    INDEC

    National Statistics and Census Institute

    IT

    information technology

    LIC

    low-income country

    MCD

    Middle East and Central Asia Department (IMF)

    MCM

    Monetary and Capital Markets Department (IMF)

    NBFIs

    nonbank financial institutions

    OECD

    Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

    OIA

    Office of Internal Audit and Inspection (IMF)

    OMD

    Office of the Managing Director (IMF)

    PRGF

    Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility

    REO

    Regional Economic Outlook

    RES

    Research Department (IMF)

    ROSC

    Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes

    SDDS

    Special Data Dissemination Standard

    SDMX

    Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange

    SIA

    Statistical Issues Appendix

    SNA

    System of National Accounts

    SPR

    Strategy, Policy, and Review Department (IMF)

    SRFs

    standardized report forms

    STA

    Statistics Department (IMF)

    TA

    technical assistance

    TGS

    Technology and General Services Department (IMF)

    TMU

    Technical Memorandum of Understanding

    TSR

    Triennial Surveillance Review

    UFR

    use of Fund resources

    UN

    United Nations

    WEO

    World Economic Outlook

    WHD

    Western Hemisphere Department (IMF)

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