Chapter

2. Data Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness: General Considerations

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund
Published Date:
July 2007
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2.1 This chapter describes the general concepts used in the SDDS, including data coverage, periodicity, timeliness, flexibility options, and other considerations.

Coverage

2.2 The SDDS prescribes the dissemination of macroeconomic statistics covering four key sectors of the economy (real, fiscal, financial, and external).1 SDDS specifications for coverage and related periodicity and timeliness for each data category are summarized in Table 2.1. Details are provided in Chapters 36.

Table 2.1.SDDS Data Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness
CoveragePeriodicity1Timeliness1
PrescribedEncouraged
Category2ComponentsCategories and/or Components
Real sector
GDP: nominal, real, and associated prices or price indices*
  • GDP in current prices and GDP volume by production approach, with disaggregated components; or

  • GDP in current prices and GDP volume by expenditure category, with disaggregated components

Saving;

Gross national income.
QQ
Production index/indices**Industrial, primary commodity, or sector, coverage as relevantM (as relevant)6W (as relevant) (M encouraged)
Forward-looking indicator(s) (FLIs), for example, qualitative business surveys, orders, composite leading indicatorsM or QM or Q
Labor market
  • Employment, as relevant;

  • Unemployment, as relevant; and

  • Wages/earnings, as relevant

Q (as relevant)Q (as relevant)
Price indices
  • Consumer prices; and

  • Producer or wholesale prices

MM
Fiscal sector
General government operations (or public sector operations, as relevant)*For subscribers using the Manual on Government Finance Statistics 1986 (GFSM 1986) framework:
  • revenue;

  • expenditure;

  • balance (deficit/surplus);

  • aggregate financing, disaggregated by:

    • –domestic financing (bank, nonbank);

    • –foreign financing

    • If disaggregation by domestic (bank, nonbank) and foreign financing is not feasible, disaggregated by:

    • –maturity, and either

    • –instrument or

    • –currency of issue

For subscribers using the GFSM 1986 framework:
  • Interest payments, indicated separately as a component of expenditure

  • Financing of public enterprises separately identified

A (Q encouraged)2Q (Q encouraged)
For subscribers using the Manual on Government Finance Statistics 2001 (GFSM 2001) framework, see Tables 4.1a, 4.1b, and 4.1c of The Special Data Dissemination Standard: Guide for Subscribers and Users (SDDS Guide)For subscribers using the GFSM 2001 framework, see Tables 4.1a, 4.1b, and 4.1c of the SDDS Guide
Central government operations**For subscribers using the GFSM 1986 framework:
  • revenue;

  • expenditure;

  • balance (deficit/surplus);

  • aggregate financing, disaggregated by:

    • –domestic financing (bank, nonbank);

    • –foreign financing

    • If disaggregation by domestic (bank, nonbank) and foreign financing is not feasible, disaggregated by:

    • –maturity, and either

    • –instrument or

    • –currency of issue

For subscribers using the GFSM 1986 framework:
  • Interest payments, indicated separately as a component of expenditure

  • Financing of public enterprises separately identified

MM
For subscribers using the GFSM 2001 framework, see Tables 4.1a, 4.1b, and 4.1c of the SDDS GuideFor subscribers using the GFSM 2001 framework, see Tables 4.1a, 4.1b, and 4.1c of the SDDS Guide
Central government debtTotal, with disaggregated components:

  • by maturity; and

  • by residency (domestic, foreign); or

  • by instrument; or

  • by currency of issue



Non-central-government debt guaranteed by central government, as relevant
Debt-service projections:
  • Projected interest and amortization payments on medium-and longterm debt, provided quarterly for the coming four quarters, and annually thereafter; and

  • Quarterly data on projected repayments of short-term debt

QQ
For subscribers using the GFSM 2001 framework, see Tables 4.1a and 4.1d of the SDDS GuideFor subscribers using the GFSM 2001 framework, see Tables 4.1a and 4.1d of the SDDS Guide
Financial sector
Depository corporations survey*

(formerly, the analytical accounts of banking sector)
  • Broad money (for example, M3);

  • Domestic claims, disaggregated into:

    • (1a) net claims on general government (covering central, state, and local governments); or

    • (1b) claims on nonfinancial public sector (if public sector operations represent the comprehensive framework for the fiscal sector); and

    • (2) claims on other resident sectors

  • Net foreign assets Or

  • Total foreign assets

  • Total foreign liabilities

  • Narrower (lower-ordered) monetary aggregates (such as M1 and M2);

  • Claims on other resident sectors, disaggregated into:

    • (1) Other financial corporations;

    • (2) Public nonfinancial corporations (not applicable if claims on nonfinancial public sector are disseminated);

    • (3) Other nonfinancial corporations; and

    • (4) Other resident sectors

MM
Central bank survey**

(formerly the analytical accounts of the central bank)
  • Monetary base;

  • Domestic claims, disaggregated into:

    • (1a) net claims on general government (covering central, state, and local governments); or

    • (1b) claims on nonfinancial public sector (if public sector operations represent the comprehensive framework for the fiscal sector); and

    • (2) claims on all other resident sectors

  • Net foreign assets Or

  • Total foreign assets

  • Total foreign liabilities

Claims on other resident sectors, disaggregated into:
  • Other financial corporations;

  • Public nonfinancial corporations (not applicable if claims on nonfinancial public sector are disseminated);

  • Other nonfinancial corporations; and

  • Other resident sectors

M (W encouraged)2W (W encouraged)
Interest rates
  • Short-term and long-term government security rates; and

  • Policy-oriented rate (for example, central bank lending rate)

Range of representative deposit and lending ratesD3
Stock marketShare price index, as relevantD3
External sector
Balance of payments*
  • Current account, disaggregated by:

    • (1) Goods: exports;

    • (2) Goods: imports;

    • (3) Services: credit;

    • (4) Services: debit;

    • (5) Income: credit;

    • (6) Income: debit;

    • (7) Current transfers: credit; and

    • (8) Current transfers: debit

  • Capital account, disaggregated by:

    • (1) capital account: credit; and

    • (2) capital account: debit

  • Financial account, disaggregated by:

    • (1) direct investment abroad;

    • (2) direct investment in reporting economy;

    • (3) portfolio investment, assets;

    • (4) portfolio investment, liabilities;

    • (5) other investment, assets;

    • (6) other investment, liabilities; and

    • (7) reserve assets

  • Net errors and omissions

  • Disaggregation according to the standard components of the IMF’s Balance of Payments Manual, fifth edition (BPM5)

  • Under financial account, separately report data on financial derivatives; assets and liabilities

QQ
Official reserve assets**
  • Total amount of official reserve assets, disaggregated into:

    • (1) foreign currency reserves;

    • (2) IMF reserve position;

    • (3) SDRs;

    • (4) gold; and

    • (5) other reserve assets.

M (W encouraged)1W
Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity**M (W encouraged)1M (1W encouraged)
Merchandise trade**Trade balance, disaggregated into: (1) merchandise imports; and (2) merchandise exportsDisaggregation by major components, with longer time lapseM8W (4-6W encouraged)
International investment position (IIP)*Assets, disaggregated by:

  • direct investment abroad;

  • portfolio investment, disaggregated by:

    • (1) equity securities;

    • (2) debt securities;

  • other investment; and

  • reserve assets.



Liabilities, disaggregated by:

  • direct investment in reporting economy;

  • portfolio investment, disaggregated by:

    • (1) equity securities;

    • (2) debt securities; and

  • other investment.

  • Disaggregation of assets and liabilities according to the standard components of the IMF Balance of Payments Manual, fifth edition

  • Under assets and liabilities, separately report data on financial derivatives.4

A (Q encouraged)3Q (Q encouraged)
External debtQQ
Exchange rates
  • Spot rates; and

  • three-and six-month forward market rates, as relevant

D3
Addendum: PopulationKey distributions, for example, by age and sex.A5
Source: IMF Statistics Department.

2.3 For each of the four sectors, the SDDS prescribes (a) a comprehensive statistical framework, (b) a data category (or categories) that tracks the principal measures in the comprehensive framework, and (c) other data categories relevant to the sector.

Comprehensive Statistical Framework

2.4 Comprehensive frameworks refer to well-recognized analytical constructs under which data are presented to measure the performance of an economy. The comprehensive framework provided in the SDDS for the real sector is the national accounts; for the fiscal sector, general government operations (GGO) or public sector operations (PSO); for the financial sector, the depository corporations survey (DCS);2 and for the external sector, the balance of payments and the international investment position (IIP). For most countries, data presented in the comprehensive frameworks are usually prepared quarterly or less frequently and are usually disseminated with a lag reflecting the complexity of the compilation process.

Tracking Categories

2.5 Tracking categories cover data that are less encompassing than the comprehensive framework but still representative of the performance of the sector. These data are compiled and disseminated more frequently and are more timely than those presented in the comprehensive framework. As such, these data lend themselves to short-term analysis. Under the SDDS, these tracking categories include:

  • Monthly production index/indices as an early indicator of GDP (in volume terms);

  • Monthly data on the central government operations (CGO) as a useful gauge of the less frequent data on GGO or PSO;

  • Central bank survey (CBS) as a higher-frequency indicator of financial developments in the financial sector;

  • International reserves and monthly merchandise trade data as the more timely tracking information for quarterly balance of payments developments; and

  • Quarterly external debt statistics and official reserve assets as tracking indicators for the IIP.

Other Data Categories

2.6 In addition to comprehensive frameworks and tracking categories, the SDDS prescribes the dissemination of data on the labor market and central government debt. This group of data categories covered by the SDDS concerns prices, interest rates, and exchange rates.

2.7 Most of the data prescribed by the SDDS are produced by official agencies, for instance, the central bank, the national statistical office, and the finance ministry. Certain privately compiled data are included in the SDDS in the interest of obtaining a more complete picture of the economy and more consistent coverage across countries. Forward-looking indicators (FLIs) for the real sector are a case in point. In some countries, these data are compiled by private organizations such as research institutes, banks, or stock exchanges. The inclusion of privately produced data nevertheless requires that the country’s metadata clearly explain the role assumed by the official (disseminating) agency with respect to access by the public, integrity, and quality of such data.

2.8 Except for prices, employment rates, interest rates, and exchange rates, which are expressed as percentages or rates of change from one period to another, the flow and stock data that the SDDS covers refer to magnitudes (for example, values of transactions).

2.9 The prescribed data categories and components were selected because they are essential for analyzing a country’s economic performance and policy. Encouraged data categories cover additional information that may increase the transparency of a country’s economic performance and policy. When a category or component is designated as “encouraged,” a subscriber is deemed to be in observance of the SDDS with respect to the specific category or component even if it does not compile and disseminate data pertaining to that component or category. Data categories and components that are encouraged are useful analytically but may require an extensive statistical system to compile. For example, “saving,” shown as an encouraged component in the national accounts category, is clearly of analytical interest but requires a more elaborate system than that needed to compile GDP alone. Debt-service projections, which are an encouraged component in the central government debt (CGD) and external debt categories, may require assumptions, for example, about interest rates and exchange rate trends.

The “As Relevant” Provision

2.10 Some data categories and components are designated “as relevant” (Table 2.2). If a data category or component is not relevant to a particular country, the subscribing country can be in observance of the SDDS even if it does not produce and disseminate data pertaining to that category or component. Components (industry, commodity, sector) of the production index or indices have been designated “as relevant” because the choice that a country might make about which index or indices to disseminate depends on its economic structure, including industrial production in some countries, commodity production (for example, petroleum) in others, and agricultural production in still others. The term “as relevant” also makes allowance for the inapplicability of some concepts (as in the case of economy-wide wages as a labor market measure for an agricultural economy) and the nonexistence of instruments (indexed debt) and markets (stock markets or foreign exchange markets). Where the concepts apply, the markets exist, or the financial instruments and arrangements are in use, the “as relevant” provision is not to be invoked. The determination on whether the “as relevant” provision is appropriate is made by the IMF staff.

Table 2.2.SDDS “As Relevant” Provisions and Flexibility Options
Data Category“As Relevant” Provisions and Flexibility Options
Real sector
National accounts—GDP: nominal, real, and associated prices or price indices*No flexibility options for coverage or periodicity.
A special flexibility option may be taken for timeliness, subject to meeting the prescribed periodicity and timeliness for the tracking category—the production index.
Production index/indices**No flexibility options for coverage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness.
Note: Specifications for periodicity and timeliness must be met if a subscriber wishes to take a special timeliness flexibility option for the GDP data category.
“As relevant” provision for coverage, periodicity, and timeliness: the range of components included in the index (industrial, primary commodity, or other sectors) should reflect the structure of the economy.
Note: Subscribers that invoke the “as relevant” provision cannot avail themselves of the special timeliness for the national accounts.
Forward-looking indicator(s)No flexibility option is required, since this is an encouraged data category.
Labor market“As relevant” provision for the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of employment, unemployment, and/or wages/earnings.
For the whole labor market data category, or for any of its elements (employment, unemployment or wages/earnings), a regular flexibility option may be taken for the periodicity and/or timeliness.
Price indicesNo flexibility options for coverage.
For the whole price indices data category, or for any of its components (consumer price index or producer price index), a regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness. Thus one regular flexibility option covers both consumer prices and producer price indices.
Fiscal sector
General government operations (or public sector operations, as relevant)*No flexibility options for coverage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness.
Central government operations**No flexibility options for coverage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness. Targeted timeliness flexibility option for countries implementing quarterly accrual-based data on general government operations (GGO): subscribers disseminating, with a one-quarter lag, quarterly GGO data in line with GFSM 2001 or an equivalent standard are allowed to disseminate data for the last month of the fiscal year with a lag of up to three months and data for the first month of the new fiscal year with a lag of up to two months.
Central government debt“As relevant” provision for coverage and component disaggregation: domestic and foreign components, as relevant; breakdown by currency (including exchange rate indexed and nonindexed breakdowns within currency), as relevant; debt guaranteed by central government, as relevant.
A regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness.
Financial sector
Depository corporations survey (ODCS)*No flexibility options for coverage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness.
“As relevant” timeliness provision for countries with extensive branch banking systems: subscribers, if necessary, can meet SDDS requirements by disseminating major indicators such as broad money and total credit within the prescribed timeliness of one month if all components are disseminated soon thereafter (normally with a lag not to exceed two months).
Central bank survey (CBS)**No flexibility options for coverage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness.
Interest ratesNo flexibility options for coverage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken with respect to periodicity.
Stock market“As relevant” provision for coverage: if the stock market is in an early phase of development and no share price index is produced at this stage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken with respect to periodicity.
External sector
Balance of payments*No flexibility options for coverage or periodicity.
A special flexibility option may be taken for timeliness, subject to meeting the prescribed periodicity and timeliness for the merchandise trade.
Official reserve assets**No flexibility options for coverage, periodicity, and/or timeliness.
Template Guidelines(International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity: Guidelines for a Data Template [2001])**No flexibility options for coverage, periodicity, and/or timeliness.
Merchandise trade**No flexibility options for coverage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness.
Note: the specifications for periodicity and timeliness must be met if a subscriber wishes to take a flexibility option for the balance of payments data category.
International investment positionNo flexibility options for coverage.
A regular flexibility option may be taken for periodicity and/or timeliness.
External debtNo flexibility options for coverage, periodicity, and timeliness.
Exchange rates“As relevant” provision for the coverage: if there are no forward market rates or if forward market transactions are not significant.
A regular flexibility option may be taken with respect to periodicity.
Addendum
PopulationA regular flexibility option may be taken with respect to periodicity.
Additional data categoriesNo flexibility option is required, as these are not prescribed categories.
Source: IMF Statistics Department.Coverage refers to the item and components coverage, not to the institutional or geographical coverage.

2.11 A subscribing country should indicate in its national summary data page (NSDP) the data category(ies) or component(s) that are not viewed as relevant and the reasons why. In addition, the subscribing country should provide such information in its metadata to the IMF so that the information is shown in the DSBB.3

Other Considerations

2.12 The SDDS is a standard of best dissemination practices. Data prescribed for dissemination are to be compiled in conformance with internationally accepted methodologies, including concepts and definitions. The adoption of international guidelines underpins the compilation of sound statistics that are consistent over time and comparable across countries, providing meaningful data to inform policymaking and analysis. Internationally accepted guidelines for compiling the economic and financial statistics prescribed by the SDDS are provided in a number of manuals. For ease of reference, they are listed in Appendix II. The methods and sources a country uses to compile the prescribed data are to be clearly described in the country’s metadata, as well as major divergences from internationally accepted practices.

2.13 In the interest of flexibility, the SDDS provides that the data disseminated do not have to be final data; they may be preliminary and subject to revision and should be designated as such. However, estimates that are not based on data collected for the reference period would not be considered preliminary and would not conform with the SDDS specifications. The SDDS also allows summary aggregates to be disseminated and identified as such.

2.14 When components of a data category could be implied, or be derivable, from a data presentation, the SDDS calls for these to be explicitly shown. For example, for CGO, a surplus or deficit amount (the difference between revenues and expenditures) would have to be shown in addition to data on revenues and expenditures. The absence of explicit mention of the deficit amount reduces the ease of access and tends to increase the risk of user misinterpretation, and should therefore be avoided.

2.15 Flow data for a reference period should cover transactions for the period, not cumulative totals showing transactions added from one period to another. Stock data should reflect the economic or financial valuation at a specific point in time. As noted earlier, unless specified otherwise (as in the case of indices), data are to be disseminated in their magnitudes and not in percentage changes.4 Statistics in constant prices should show a reference year relative to which the data are presented. For such data to be meaningful for analysis, the reference year should not shift frequently, although it might be adjusted periodically (for example, every five or ten years). The reference year relative to which the data are presented is distinct from the reference period of a benchmark or reweighting exercise. Modern data series with price or volume components (or both) may be benchmarked or reweighted as frequently as every quarter, comprising a “linked chain” of reweighted series fragments, yet still be presented relative to an infrequently adjusted reference year. Where time series are provided, a consistent methodology should be used so that the data reflect both short-and long-term movements in the series. The data should also allow users to make meaningful comparisons of different periods in the series, periods of different durations in the series, and subperiods and periods in the series.

Periodicity

2.16 Periodicity refers to the frequency of compilation and related dissemination of the data. The periodicity of a particular data category reflects several factors, including the ease of observation or compilation and the needs of analysis. Although these factors are not the same across countries for specific data categories or components, in practice a common understanding exists among countries about the highest frequency of compilation for many data categories or components. Such frequency is prescribed in the SDDS. Depending on the data categories or components, the prescribed frequency can be daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually.

2.17 In describing the periodicity of the data compiled, the metadata can specify the exact number of days the data cover. For example, weekly data generally cover seven calendar days; however, data covering the period through the seventh, fifteenth, twenty-second, and last day of the month would be considered as meeting the specification for weekly data. Although a quarter is usually viewed as three months, data covering successive intervals of 13 weeks would be considered quarterly. Annual data may be for a calendar year or a fiscal year with varying beginning dates; the metadata should note the beginning date for the fiscal year.

2.18 Although the SDDS specifies, for example, monthly or quarterly periodicity, this does not mean that data compiled less frequently are not useful. A balanced statistical program will encompass statistics compiled frequently on a regular basis for short-term analysis and statistics compiled at longer intervals for structural analysis and as benchmark data.

Timeliness

2.19 Timeliness refers to the lapse of time between the end of a reference period (or a reference date) of the data and the date on which the data are disseminated. Timeliness reflects many factors, including some related to institutional arrangements, such as the time needed for statistical processing or compilation and the time needed to prepare accompanying commentary and dissemination.

2.20 The timeliness specifications in the SDDS are in terms of “no later than” (NLT) the prescribed lapses of time. Thus, for data categories for which the SDDS prescribes a “monthly” timeliness, the data are to be disseminated on or before the last day of the calendar month following the end of the reference period (usually the reference month).

2.21 For five data categories, the SDDS encourages shorter time lags than the ones prescribed:

  • Production index/indices (where relevant);

  • Central bank survey (CBS);

  • Data template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity (Template Guideline);

  • Merchandise trade; and

  • IIP.

2.22 Daily data are usually disseminated on the same day or with a one-day lag.

Flexibility on Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness

2.23 With respect to flexibility on coverage, as noted earlier, a few data components or categories are encouraged rather than prescribed in the SDDS. Furthermore, certain data categories to be disseminated are designated on an “as relevant” basis.

2.24 The availability of flexibility options for periodicity or timeliness varies with data categories, as outlined below.

  • No flexibility option is provided for international reserves data as they are critical to assessing a country’s external financial viability. These data are to be disseminated with the prescribed monthly periodicity and timeliness within one week of the reference month.

  • No flexibility option is provided for the periodicity of national accounts and balance of payments data. Quarterly data are prescribed for both categories because these comprehensive frameworks are critical for up-to-date assessments of a country’s macroeconomic performance and policy.

  • A special timeliness flexibility option, however, is provided for the national accounts. If a monthly production index that tracks GDP is disseminated within the prescribed timeliness of six weeks, then a subscriber may disseminate quarterly GDP data with a lag exceeding the three-month timeliness requirement and be deemed to be in compliance with the SDDS requirements for the national accounts category.

  • A special timeliness flexibility option is provided for the balance of payments data. If monthly merchandise trade data are disseminated within the prescribed timeliness of eight weeks, then a subscriber may disseminate quarterly balance of payments data with a lag exceeding the three-month requirement and be deemed to be in compliance with SDDS requirements for the balance of payments category.

  • A targeted timeliness flexibility option is provided for CGO. Subscribers that have implemented accrual accounting for fiscal sector data may avail themselves of a targeted timeliness flexibility option for disseminating CGO data. This option is available to subscribers disseminating with no more than a one-quarter lag quarterly GGO data consistent with GFSM 2001 or an equivalent methodological standard; it allows the dissemination of CGO data for the last month of the fiscal year with a lag of up to three months and CGO data for the first month of the new fiscal year with a lag of up to two months.

  • For any two data categories other than national accounts, balance of payments, official reserve assets, data template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity, and external debt, subscribers may take a regular flexibility option allowing them to disseminate data with a periodicity or timeliness (or both) “less” than prescribed. These two regular flexibility options can be taken in addition to the other flexibility options previously described. Regular flexibility options respond to some country-specific need—for example, when best practice leads to a specification for periodicity or timeliness that a subscribing country does not consider appropriate for its particular circumstances.

2.25 Consistent with the SDDS as a standard of best practices, the flexibility provided for periodicity and timeliness is not open-ended. The extra time allowed for compilation or dissemination under the options, unless indicated separately for specific data categories or components, is usually not to exceed one reference period, and the data are to be disseminated no later than the next due date. (For example, for quarterly data to be disseminated within one quarter after the end of the reference period, if a subscriber takes a timeliness flexibility option, the data should be released to the public no later than two quarters after the end of the reference period.)

2.26 When a flexibility option is taken, the metadata are to provide justification.

2.27 A summary of the subscribing country’s observance of the specifications for data coverage, periodicity, and timeliness, noting the flexibility options taken, can usually be found under “summary of observance” on a country page on the DSBB (see also Chapter 9).

2.28 For ease of reference, Table 2.2 summarizes the “as relevant” provisions and flexibility options provided in the SDDS.

The population data category is considered an addendum to the SDDS.

As set forth in the MFSM (2000). The former terminology for the DCS was “analytical accounts of the banking system.”

The information would be posted on the subscribing country’s base page and summary of observance. (See also Chapters 8 and 9.)

However, countries may add percentage changes as additional data.

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