Front Matter

Front Matter

Marcello Caiola
Published Date:
August 1995
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    Training Series No. 1 . Volume 1

    A Manual for Country Economists

    Marcello Caiola

    IMF Institute and Research Department

    International Monetary Fund


    © 1995 International Monetary Fund

    June 1995

    Editor: Gail Berre

    Composition and Page Design: Alicia Etchebarne-Bourdin

    Cover Design: IMF Graphics Section

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

    Caiola, Marcello.

    A manual for country economists / Marcello Caiola.

    p. cm.

    Includes bibliographical references (p. 175).

    ISBN 9781557754608 (v. 1 : alk. paper)

    1. Finance, Public—Handbooks, manuals, etc. 2. Finance—Handbooks, manuals, etc. 3. International Monetary Fund—Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Title.

    HJ131.C34 1995




    Price: US$25.00

    Please send orders to:

    International Monetary Fund, Publication Services

    700 19th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20431, U.S.A.

    Tel.: (202) 623-7430

    Telefax: (202) 623-7201


    Table of Contents


    This guide is addressed mainly to new staff members in the area and functional departments of the International Monetary Fund, and arose from my desire to share with them experiences and insights gained during my career in the IMF. When I joined an area department as a desk economist, I was given lectures prepared by one of my supervisors that described how an area department operates and what was expected from me. Later on, I complemented these with the practical experience that we all learn while working as a desk economist at headquarters and on missions. Nevertheless, I found those lectures invaluable, because they gave me a head start at the beginning of my career in an area department. This paper attempts to provide a practical guide for desk economists and deals with certain problems that are frequently encountered in the course of our work, particularly in regard to data interpretation and deficiencies. A companion volume, to be published later, will look further into the policy aspects of this subject and will present detailed techniques for formulating a financial program.

    This guide presents different ways to tackle specific problems that desk economists encounter in analyzing country data, but it is not intended to be a unique, comprehensive volume. In the IMF, copious literature is available to the staff in the form of staff reports, memoranda, and manuals on methodology of financial statistics. This guide does not attempt to replace them, rather it presents an approach to analyzing financial developments in a country and to evaluating the quality of data at the disposal of the staff. By the same token, while techniques described herein can be applied to certain countries, they cannot necessarily be applied to others, either due to a lack of reliable information or because circumstances are different. However, it would be impossible to prepare a guide that addresses all possible scenarios. For this reason, desk economists are encouraged to apply the techniques of this guide in a flexible manner, adapting them to the circumstances of the country concerned and to the quality and coverage of available data. To put it in more positive terms, lack or poor quality of data should spur the desk economist’s interest and desire to improve the database at his/her disposal.

    Admittedly, other approaches have been pursued in different departments, and other IMF staff have acquired similar experiences and developed techniques of their own. A sharing of these experiences and techniques would facilitate the assimilation of new economists in the IMF.

    Marcello Caiola

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