IMF: Statistics for Policymaking

Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF: “So if you are wondering why the IMF cares so much about statistics and hosting such forums—I would say the reason is obvious.
The quest for understanding and making sense of the real world—by recording tasks and counting objects—has anchored economic development and social behavior over the past several millennia. Data has gained prominence as a vital building block for making sound policy. Without reliable and timely economic data, we would be wandering in the dark, making decisions on the basis of anecdotes, gut feelings, or worse.
However, the world of economic and financial statistics is not “static.” Markets evolve, and policy needs adapt. There needs to be continuous dialogue between the users and suppliers of data on relevant economic and financial issues.
This is precisely the objective of our forum today. It provides a unique setting for discussing cutting-edge statistics among a broad range of stakeholders: academics, private sector analysts, data compilers, and decision makers.
The theme for this year’s forum is identifying macroeconomic and financial vulnerabilities. To do this, we need to touch upon a broad range of topics, including cross-border linkages, key market indicators, and survey data, and even “Big Data.”
We need to bring all relevant information to the service of macroeconomic policymaking.
I would like to use this opportunity to offer a few thoughts on three key activities under way at the Fund:
(i) the IMF/FSB G-20 Data Gaps Initiative;
(ii) the IMF Data Standards Initiatives; and
(iii) our Data Publication Initiative.

And I have an important announcement to make—starting January 1, 2015 we will provide all our online data free-of-charge to everyone.
This will help all those who draw on our data make better use of this vital statistical resource—from budget numbers to balance of payments data, debt statistics to critical global indicators.”