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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.

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


IMF economists work closely with member countries on a variety of issues. Their unique perspective on country experiences and best practices on global macroeconomic issues are often shared in the form of books on diverse topics such as cross-country comparisons, capacity building, macroeconomic policy, financial integration, and globalization.

Phillip Z. Kirpich

In developing countries throughout the world, foreign experts play a vital role in identifying and carrying through development projects. But often they have been employed in wrong ways and their skills wasted. Moreover, there are many problems that are beyond the capacity of foreigners to solve or are too touchy for them to handle. The author, drawing on his experience with large-scale water-resource projects, makes some suggestions about how foreign experts can be most usefully used.