The 1980s saw an unprecedented growth in the volume and the complexity of international financial transactions (Chart 1). This has been accompanied by a significant deterioration in the coverage and quality of the data. As a result, it has become very difficult, and at times impossible, for policymakers to base judgments on reported balance of payments statistics, particularly statistics on international capital flows. Unless appropriate action is taken, there will almost certainly be a further deterioration, with inevitable consequences for policymaking.
The Interim Committee of the Fund’s Board of Governors, in its communique of September 25, 1989, “encouraged the IMF’s Executive Board to continue improving the analytical and empirical framework underlying multilateral surveillance, including the measurement, determinants, and systemic consequences of international capital flows.” At a meeting in December 1989, the Executive Board decided that the Fund should undertake a study on the measurement of international capital flows. To this end, it was agreed that a working party of national and international balance of payments experts, drawn from industrial and developing member countries, be constituted under the chairmanship of Baron Jean Godeaux of Belgium. To support the Working Party, a small group of technical experts was organized and attached to the Statistics Department of the Fund. An interim report was submitted to the Managing Director in December 1990.
The Background Papers gathers together a number of studies that were prepared as research to the final report. Although not a part of the report itself, these papers provide detail on a number of issues grouped together here by general topic; data sources and methodology, direct investment, portfolio investment, international banking statistics, and other capital flows.
The Report evaluates statistical practices relating to the measurement of international capital flows. In particular, the principal sources of statistical descrepancies in the component categories of the capital account in the global balance of payments are addressed.