International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
This report examines whether the IMF has effectively leveraged an important asset: data. It finds that in general, the IMF has been able to rely on a large amount of data of acceptable quality, and that data provision from member countries has improved markedly over time. Nonetheless, problems with data or data practices have, at times, adversely affected the IMF’s surveillance and lending activities. The roots of data problems are diverse, ranging from problems due to member countries’ capacity constraints or reluctance to share sensitive data to internal issues such as lack of appropriate staff incentives, institutional rigidities, and long-standing work practices. Efforts to tackle these problems are piecemeal, the report finds, without a clear comprehensive strategy that recognizes data as an institutional strategic asset, not just a consumption good for economists. The report makes a number of recommendations that could promote greater progress in this regard.
After the decline in oil prices, many oil exporters face the need to improve their external
balances. Special characteristics of oil exporters make the exchange rate an ineffective
instrument for this purpose and give fiscal policy a sizeable role. These conclusions are
supported by regression analysis of the determinants of the current account balance and of
the trade balance. The results show little or no relationship with the exchange rate and,
especially for the less diversified oil exporters (including the Gulf Cooperation Council), a
strong relationship with the fiscal balance or government spending.