Front Matter

Front Matter

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office
Published Date:
April 2016
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EVALUATION REPORT

IEO

Independent Evaluation Office

of the International Monetary Fund

Behind the Scenes with Data at the IMF An IEO Evaluation

© 2016 International Monetary Fund

Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Joint Bank-Fund Library

Names: Wagner, Nancy L. (Nancy Louise) | International Monetary Fund. Independent Evaluation Office.

Title: Behind the scenes with data at the IMF : an IEO evaluation / this report was prepared by an IEO team led by Nancy Wagner.

Description: Washington, DC : Independent Evaluation Office, International Monetary Fund, 2016. | Includes bibliographical references

Identifiers: ISBN 978-1-49838-598-5 (paper)

Subjects: LCSH: Economics, Mathematical. | Finance—Statistics. | Economic indicators. | International Monetary Fund.

Classification: LCC HB137.B44 2016

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Contents

The following conventions are used in this publication:

  • An en dash (–) between years or months (for example, 2015–16 or January–June) indicates the years or months covered, including the beginning and ending years or months; a slash or virgule (/) between years or months (for example, 2015/16) indicates a fiscal or financial year, as does the abbreviation FY (for example, FY2016).

  • “Billion” means a thousand million; “trillion” means a thousand billion.

As used in this publication, the term “country” does not in all cases refer to a territorial entity that is a state as understood by international law and practice. As used here, the term also covers some territorial entities that are not states but for which statistical data are maintained on a separate and independent basis.

Some of the documents cited and referenced in this report were not available to the public at the time of publication of this report. Under the current policy on public access to the IMF’s archives, some of these documents will become available 3 or 5 years after their issuance. They may be referenced as EBS/YY/NN and SM/YY/NN, where EBS and SM indicate the series and YY indicates the year of issue. Certain other types of documents may become available 20 years after their issuance. For further information, see www.imf.org/external/np/arc/eng/archive.htm.

Foreword

Data issues have long been a source of concern for the IMF. Since the 1980s, IMF staff has presented more than 150 papers on data issues for the Executive Board’s consideration. However, many of the problems raised in the earlier papers remain largely unresolved. Moreover, each of those earlier papers tended to look at just a small slice of the picture regarding data—that is, a piecemeal approach. This report tries to look at data in a holistic manner.

In particular, we try to look at data from the perspective of the Fund’s role as a global macroeconomic risk manager, that is, its role in (i) crisis prevention/mitigation (surveillance) and (ii) crisis response (lending). Data are essential in discharging these responsibilities, leading to a seemingly simple, yet complex question: “Are data adequate for surveillance and lending?”

Indeed, problems with data or data practices—missing data, misleading data, or ignoring available data—have at times hampered the Fund’s ability to respond effectively to imminent challenges. As a result, for a time after each crisis, data issues are front and center, resulting in major changes in the Fund’s statistical arsenal. But this attention to data tends to wane after a while, as data become, once again, an afterthought.

The roots of these problems are diverse, ranging from external (e.g., member country capacity constraints) to internal (e.g., lack of appropriate staff incentives, entrenched work practices). While most of these have been recognized for decades, they are now cast in a different light due to the proliferation of data sources, technological advances, and a surge in demand for multilateral and financial surveillance and cross-country analyses. This presents greater challenges for the Fund, but also greater opportunities for change.

This evaluation found that noteworthy progress has been made—particularly with external data provision and internal data management—but important obstacles to reform have yet to be tackled. The report thus advocates, first and foremost, that the IMF should design and implement a long-term overarching data strategy, one that goes well beyond data management and recognizes data as a strategic institutional asset. Our other recommendations are important elements of such a strategy, but their implementation could begin in parallel: define and prioritize the IMF’s data needs; reconsider the role and mandate of the IMF’s Statistics Department; reexamine staff incentives; and make clear the IMF’s responsibility regarding the quality of the data it disseminates.

I am encouraged by the broad agreement, expressed by the Managing Director and the Executive Board, with the findings and recommendations of this report. It is our hope that this report will help catalyze the efforts to address remaining data problems and thereby better support the Fund in delivering on its evolving and more challenging role in today’s increasingly interconnected global economy.

Moises J. Schwartz

Director

Independent Evaluation Office

Behind the Scenes with Data at the IMF: An IEO Evaluation

This report was prepared by an IEO team led by Nancy Wagner. The IEO team included Miguel de Las Casas, Chris Monasterski, Roxana Pedraglio, and Thomas Reichmann. The evaluation was informed by background studies prepared by Carlos de Resende, Morten Jerven, Franz Loyola, Tam Nguyen, and members of the evaluation team. The evaluation benefited from discussions with participants—William Alexander, John Boorman, Eduard Brau, Carol Carson, Philip Cross, Donal Donovan, John Hicklin, Russell Kincaid, Anne Krueger, Jin Liqun, Meg Lundsager, David Robinson, Marko Škreb, Hector Torres, Edwin Truman, and Onno Wijnholds—at two workshops that took place in Washington, D.C., and at a workshop in Berlin organized jointly with the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval). It also benefited from comments by IMF staff. However, the final judgments are the responsibility of the IEO alone. Arun Bhatnagar, Annette Canizares, and Amy Gamulo provided administrative assistance. Rachel Weaving, Roxana Pedraglio, and Esha Ray provided editorial and production management assistance. The report was approved by Moises Schwartz.

Abbreviations

ADV

advanced economy

AFR

African Department (IMF)

APD

Asia and Pacific Department (IMF)

BIS

Bank for International Settlements

BSA

balance sheet analysis

CDIS

Coordinated Direct Investment Survey

CDS

credit default swap

CGER

Consultative Group on Exchange Rate Issues

COFER

Currency Composition of Official Foreign Exchange Reserves

CPI

consumer price index

CPIS

Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey

CSD

Common Surveillance Databases

DGI

Data Gaps Initiative (G20)

DMX

Data Management for Excel

DQAF

Data Quality Assessment Framework

DSBB

Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board

EBA

External Balance Assessment

ECB

European Central Bank

EcOS

Economic Outlook Suite

EDGG

Economic Data Governance Group

EDMI

Economic Data Management Initiative

EDSC

Economic Data Steering Committee

EDT

Economic Data Team

EDW

Economic Data Warehouse

E-GDDS

Enhanced General Data Dissemination System

EIU

Economist Intelligence Unit

ELSTAT

Hellenic Statistical Authority

EME

emerging market economy

EU

European Union

EUR

European Department (IMF)

EWE

Early Warning Exercise

FAD

Fiscal Affairs Department (IMF)

FIN

Finance Department (IMF)

FSA

Financial Stability Assessment

FSAP

Financial Sector Assessment Program

FSB

Financial Stability Board

FSI

Financial Soundness Indicator

FSSA

Financial Sector Stability Assessment

FTE

Fiscal Transparency Evaluation

G20

A grouping composed of major advanced economies and systemically important emerging market and developing countries

G-SIFIs

Globally Systemically Important Financial Institutions

GDDS

General Data Dissemination System

GDP

gross domestic product

GFSR

Global Financial Stability Report

HRD

Human Resources Department (IMF)

IAG

Inter-Agency Group on Economic and Financial Statistics

IFI

international financial institution

IFS

International Financial Statistics

IIP

International Investment Position

IMDs

Integrated Monetary Databases

ITD

Information Technology Department (IMF)

INDEC

National Statistics and Census Institute

IT

information technology

LIC

low-income country

MCD

Middle East and Central Asia Department (IMF)

MCM

Monetary and Capital Markets Department (IMF)

NBFIs

nonbank financial institutions

OECD

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

OIA

Office of Internal Audit and Inspection (IMF)

OMD

Office of the Managing Director (IMF)

PRGF

Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility

REO

Regional Economic Outlook

RES

Research Department (IMF)

ROSC

Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes

SDDS

Special Data Dissemination Standard

SDMX

Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange

SIA

Statistical Issues Appendix

SNA

System of National Accounts

SPR

Strategy, Policy, and Review Department (IMF)

SRFs

standardized report forms

STA

Statistics Department (IMF)

TA

technical assistance

TGS

Technology and General Services Department (IMF)

TMU

Technical Memorandum of Understanding

TSR

Triennial Surveillance Review

UFR

use of Fund resources

UN

United Nations

WEO

World Economic Outlook

WHD

Western Hemisphere Department (IMF)

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