International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a United Nations specialised agency, set up to secure international monetary cooperation, to stabilise currency exchange rates and to expand international liquidity. Together with the World Bank, the fund is often referred to as a Bretton Woods institution, after the place where the conference that led to their establishment took place in 1944. Since its creation, the IMF’s principal activities have included stabilising currency exchange rates, financing the short-term balance-of-payments deficits of member countries and providing advice and technical assistance to borrowing countries (Encyclopædia Britannica 2006). The IMF is also a major producer of statistics, publishing a range of time-series data on IMF lending, exchange rates and other economic and financial indicators.
The IMF holds several datasets and databases. See the IMF Data and Statistcs page for a full list. Only the IFS and the WEO is covered in detail in the Macro Data Guide.
International Financial Statistics
CSV, Excel, HTML, txt, PDF, On-screen tables
Data types and sources
Data mainly based on official registers and national accounts, compiled from the national statistical offices of the member states.
The IMF`s principal statistical publication is the International Financial Statistics (IFS), and has been published monthly since January 1948. In 1961 the monthly was supplemented by a yearbook, and since 2000 the IFS has been available on the Internet. The IFS database reports current data needed in the analysis of problems of international payments and of inflation and deflation, that is, data on exchange rates and exchange rate arrangements; fund accounts; international liquidity; money and banking; interest rates; prices, production and labor; international transactions; government finance; and national accounts and population.
IFS contains country tables for most Fund members, as well as for a selection of other countries and areas/communities, including some non-sovereign territorial entities for which statistics are provided internationally on a separate basis.
Time coverage and updates
The printed issue of IFS reports monthly, quarterly and annual data, while the yearbook reports 12 observations of annual data. Most annual data on the website begin in 1948. Quarterly and monthly data generally begin in 1957, and most balance of payment data begin in 1970. The data are updated monthly.
Detailed and comprehensive description and documentation of the data - about coverage, deviations from the standard methodologies, and discontinuities in the data - can be found in PDF-files available for viewing and download on the website.
Access conditions and cost
Subscribers only. Discount rates for multiple-users. A 5-day free trial period is available. In addition, the database is free to subscribers in developing countries.
The database has a userfriendly interface and data can be accessed by selection of a single country, or by pre-defined world data files. Country-specific data can be accessed through a check-box list of variables and indicators, which subsequently can be dowloaded in the preferred data format.
CSV, Excel, HTML, TAB-delimited file, PDF, On-screen.
Comparability and data quality
IMF data are frequently used in international comparisons, and the quality of the data is generally assumed to be fairly high. However, as with other international organisations, the data comes from the statistical systems of member countries and the quality therefore depends on how well these national systems perform. There are also several incidences of apparent discrepancies for similarly defined variables (Pellechio and Cady 2006).
Pellechio, Anthony, and John Cady. 2006. Differences in IMF Data: Incidence and Implications. IMF Staff Papers 53 (2): 326-349.