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C C S. and A P


A key feature of the reform of the international financial architecture since the mid-1990s has been the development of international standards and codes.2 The data standards initiative, on which the IMF took the lead, broke new ground. The dissemination standards put in place as the centerpiece of this initiative continue to be among the most widely known of the international standards and codes.

Jacques R. Artus and Hiroyuki Hino

This paper compares experiences with banking crises in seven countries in order to analyze the factors governing the crises and the effectiveness of measures to deal with the problems. The linkages between deregulation of the financial sector, and financial crises are examined. The portfolio shifts during crisis periods are studied. The major lesson from these experiences is that the regulatory and portfolio weaknesses in the financial sector have strong effects on the macroeconomy and can exacerbate the costs of macroeconomic adjustment. Structural measures to correct these weaknesses are important for the effectiveness of adjustment policies.

A W E., C J, G-G, J, and K A Y.


Recognition of the importance of data transparency—including for promoting the efficient operation of financial markets and policy accountability on the part of governments and central banks—is a remarkably recent phenomenon in the history of economic thought. The timely availability of data on international reserves and the foreign exchange operations of central banks is a case in point. As recently as 10 years ago, with relatively few exceptions, only very aggregated information typically was available, and then often only with a substantial lag. Indeed, in a number of countries, these data were treated as state secrets. Moreover, significant regional differences existed—and still do, to an important degree—in terms of views about the value of enhancing transparency.

W E. A, T B, C D, A H, and L V


Although the name of the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) infers that its central focus is dissemination, in its initial stages the GDDS emphasized the development of national systems in an explicit medium-term framework. Attention to data dissemination came only at a later stage. Indeed, participating countries are not required to make any formal commitments regarding data dissemination. The main premise underlying the GDDS is to give high priority to improvements in data quality, which may need to precede improvement in dissemination practice.

C J and G-G J


The financial crises of the 1990s revealed a need for the dissemination of more comprehensive data on foreign currency liquidity positions to help prevent similar crises. In 1998, the IMF began working on initiatives in this area in collaboration with working groups of the Group of Ten (G-10) and the Group of 22 (G-22). The resulting international reserves and foreign currency liquidity data template (reserves template) became a prescribed element of the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS). Data reporting under this initiative began in June 1999, and after a short transition period, SDDS subscribers were required to observe the standard as of April 2000.

Mr. William E. Alexander, Mr. John Cady, and Mr. Jesus R Gonzalez-Garcia


In its first 10 years, the IMF’s Data Dissemination Initiative has had a demonstrable positive impact on data dissemination. Currently, the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) and the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) taken together include 83 percent of the IMF’s member countries. This initiative has become an integral part of the international financial architecture and has helped to promote economic transparency and efficiency. Along with other financial standards and codes it has served to strengthen transparency and good governance globally.

International Monetary Fund. External Relations Dept.

Several emerging market economies hold a strikingly high level of foreign reserves. Among them is Chile, whose reserves equaled about 22 percent of GDP at the end of 2003—about the same ratio as those of Asian emerging market economies and significantly higher than the Latin American average of 15 percent of GDP. Economists still have not developed a formula to determine a country’s optimal level of reserves, but in a recent study, Marco Espinosa-Vega (Senior Economist, IMF Monetary and Financial Systems Department) and Mercedes Vera-Martin (Economist, IMF International Capital Markets Department) assess the appropriateness of Chile’s reserves and find that they are above the levels that common benchmarks suggest would be adequate, and the optimal levels implied by an econometric model.

H. A. Shannon

THE EVOLUTION of the monetary and exchange system that has come to be known as the sterling area dates back to a time when almost all the territories outside Great Britain and Ireland in which this system operates were British colonial dependencies.1 For later stages of its history, as the concept of Dominion status crystallized and the number of territories to which it was applied increased, the distinction can be made, for convenience, between the Dominions, which now have complete control of their national currency and exchange policies, and other parts of the British Commonwealth which have not yet attained that status—leaving aside altogether members of the sterling area which are outside the British Commonwealth. The process of growth has been continuous throughout; it is, moreover, not yet complete. A sketch of the earlier stages of its history will contribute to a proper understanding of the sterling area as it operates today and, in particular, of the position in the sterling area of the territories which operate under the Colonial Sterling Exchange Standard.

Mr. Joachim Harnack, Mr. Sérgio Pereira. Leite, Ms. Stefania Fabrizio, Ms. Luisa Zanforlin, Mr. Girma Begashaw, and Mr. Anthony J. Pellechio


This chapter explores the key relationships between participatory democracy and successful economic development and reviews the early steps of participatory decision making in Ghana. More generally, it sets the stage for a discussion of Ghana's main achievements and failures since 1992 in raising the standard of living of its population and reducing poverty. The high-profile political process that launched constitutional democracy in the 1990s and generated Ghana—Vision 2020 placed poverty reduction at the center of economic policy. Based on a set of price and unit labor cost indicators, Ghana's competitiveness improved in the early 1990s through 1994. The evidence for 1995–98 is quite strong. The Bank of Ghana is suspected to have used administrative means and moral suasion to influence the exchange rate, resisting the cedi's depreciation. The terms-of-trade shock forced the Bank of Ghana to focus more clearly on maintaining adequate foreign reserves. The depreciation may then have helped make the foreign exchange market more active and the nominal exchange rate more representative of market conditions.