CHAPTER 4 Ongoing Topics and Future Menu of Evaluation Topics

International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Published Date:
July 2009
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The IEO is currently completing the evaluation on The IMF’s Interactions with Its Member Countries. Work is starting on two evaluation projects, one looking at the IMF’s research and one assessing the Fund’s performance in the run-up to the current financial and economic crisis. Beyond these two projects, the selection of future topics will await the arrival of the next Director of the IEO. Table 1 shows the status of IEO evaluations completed or in progress.

Table 1.Completed and Ongoing IEO Work Program
Initial Round of Evaluation Projects
Prolonged Use of IMF ResourcesCompleted (August 2002)
The IMF and Recent Capital account CrisesCompleted (May 2003)
Fiscal adjustment in IMF-supported ProgramsCompleted (July 2003)
Additions to work Program2
The IMF and ArgentinaCompleted (July 2004)
PRSPs/PRGFCompleted (June 2004)
IMF technical assistanceCompleted (January 2005)
The IMF’s approach to Capital account liberalizationCompleted (April 2005)
IMF assistance to JordanCompleted (October 2005)
Financial sector assessment ProgramCompleted (November 2005)
Multilateral surveillanceCompleted (March 2006)
Structural Conditionality in IMF-supported ProgramsCompleted (October 2007)
The IMF and aid to Sub-Saharan AfricaCompleted (January 2007)
IMF Exchange Rate Policy adviceCompleted (March 2007)
Governance of the IMFCompleted (April 2008)
IMF involvement in international trade Policy issuesCompleted (May 2009)
The IMF’s interactions with its member Countriesin progress
The IMF’s Research agendain progress
The IMF’s Role in the Run-Up to the Current Financial and Economic Crisisin progress

The IMF’s Interactions with Its Member Countries

To achieve its objectives, the IMF depends in large part on having effective interactions with member countries. Interactions take place in the context of relationships established between the IMF and its 185 member countries. The nature and objectives of these relationships vary widely across the membership. Feedback from a variety of sources—including country authorities, civil society, and academics—suggests that these interactions could be improved. Both the importance of the interactions and their shortcomings have been recurrent themes in previous IEO evaluations.

This IEO evaluation examines whether the interactions between the IMF and its member countries have been effective and well managed. It assesses the IMF’s management of interactions that were carried out in different circumstances and for various objectives between 2001 and 2008. It also looks at the Fund’s own policies for managing interactions and the policies and practices of other institutions such as the World Bank, OECD, Bank for International Settlements, and some central banks, together with private sector entities—and considers some models of what best practice might be in this area. An Issues Paper laying out the proposed main direction, areas of focus, and methodology is available on the IEO website. It is expected that the report will be sent to the Executive Board in the summer of 2009.

The IMF’s Research Agenda

The IEO evaluation of IMF research will be a follow-up to the 1999 study conducted by a group of independent external experts that evaluated the IMF’s economic research activities. At that time, the Executive Board agreed with the group’s finding that there was “substantial room for improvement in the overall quality of the IMF’s research.” Among other conclusions, Directors endorsed the recommendation that the mix of research conducted at the IMF should be directed more to areas in which research could add the most value, namely research on developing and transition economies and on the financial sector, and in particular cross-country work.

The IEO evaluation will cover research conducted by all departments in the IMF and will focus on two issues: the relevance and utilization of the IMF research program. It will examine how priorities are set, how research topics are selected, and how research is supervised and vetted across the IMF. The study will assess the extent to which a greater share of resources have been directed to areas where research could add the most value. It will examine whether research has become better integrated into operational work, that is, in technical assistance, in internal documents and review, in policy dialogue, and in recommendations made to member countries.

To characterize good practice, the evaluation will attempt to identify pieces of research that have been particularly relevant and influential for the country and policy work of the IMF. Interviews and surveys of staff, country officials and academics will be used to identify topics that could receive greater attention.

The IMF’s Role in the Run-Up to the Current Financial and Economic Crisis

This evaluation will address the effectiveness of the IMF in preventing crises, or at least in providing an early warning to the membership. It will look at the Fund’s bilateral surveillance in advanced economies, in particular on financial sector issues and vulnerability exercises. It will examine the extent to which systemic risks were identified and their potential spillover effects were brought up as part of the multilateral surveillance. The evaluation will explore the effectiveness of multilateral consultations and the utility of the process as an early warning mechanism. It will also discuss the analysis and advice provided in bilateral surveillance to emerging markets and developing countries now facing crises that are due, at least in part, to the spillover of the global crisis. This evaluation will look at the Fund’s technical work, as well as governance issues such as evenhandedness and the institution’s willingness and ability to convey difficult messages to large countries.

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