International Monetary Fund (IMF), The 2007 Surveillance Decision – Revised Operational Guidance, (Washington: International Monetary Fund).
See Guillaume et al. (forthcoming).
A set of 187 program and surveillance documents with no specific country focus such as reviews of facilities was not included in the analysis.
The GRA arrangements comprise a variety of lending programs available to all Fund members with different disbursement schedules and maturities depending on the balance of payment needs of the member.
The Poverty Reduction Growth Trust (PRGT) Arrangements are lending programs providing concessional financing support to low-income countries.
The term frequency approach was preferred to the topic modeling approach. Topic modeling is an unsupervised approach to identify keywords and common patterns representing topics throughout document collections using hierarchical probabilistic models. In topic modeling, there are no benchmarks to measure against and no direct method to adjust parameters. Moreover, the number of possible topics is limited, whereas staff reports cover a very broad range of topics over time.
Sensitivity analysis shows that the results in the trend of social issues discussed in IMF programs are broadly uncorrelated to the length of IMF documents. The length of the staff reports dropped from 2,015 words on average in 1982 to 974 words in 1984, and from 1,950 words on average in 2005 to 1,224 words in 2007. It is, therefore, important to account for these changes in the length of staff reports. The “normalized average frequency count per document” used as indicator in this analysis has a flatter shape and a less pronounced dip between 2007 and 2009 than the unnormalized indicator (“average frequency count per document”). However, overall, both indicators have broadly similar trends.
There is only one Article IV staff report at most per year whereas there would be several program review staff reports (two or more depending on the frequency of the review cycle). To ensure comparability, the frequency count is the average of the normalized term frequency for all the staff reports for a country in a year.
Equivalent to about 40 unnormalized occurrences per report.
In addition to the main text of the staff report, program staff reports include often the letter of intent, the memorandum of economic and financial policies, the technical memorandum of understanding and the data reporting requirements.
The discussion of social spending issues in SIPs follows a similar pattern to Article IV documents.