Fifth Statistical Forum

November 16-17, 2017

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    The International Monetary Fund will hold the Fifth Statistical Forum at its headquarters in Washington DC on November 16-17, 2017. The Forum is a platform for policymakers, academics, researchers, and compilers of economic and financial data to come together to discuss cutting-edge issues in macroeconomic and financial statistics and to build support for statistical improvements.  

    The theme of this year’s Statistical Forum is “ Measuring the Digital Economy”. Digitalization has transformed the way we work, consume, and engage with one another. Against a backdrop of slow growth of GDP and productivity, concerns that existing macroeconomic statistics may not fully capture the gains from digital and digitally-enabled products and activities have become a topic of much discussion and debate. The Forum will include empirical or conceptual papers that foster progress on understanding the implications of digitalization for macroeconomic and financial statistics and developing strategies to fill the measurement gaps.

    Please note that registration is closed on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 24H00 EST. Registered attendees will be required to present photo identification on entering the IMF at 1900 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington D.C. For questions regarding the Forum, please send an email to

    Please note that Forum participants are expected to cover their own travel and accommodation expenses and make their own arrangements.


    Thursday, November 16, 2017 (Day 1)

    8:00 am

    Registration and Continental Breakfast

    8:45 am

    Welcoming Remarks, Louis Marc Ducharme, Director of Statistics Department, IMF

    8:50 am

    Introductory Remarks, Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director, IMF

    9:00 am

    Keynote speech, Peter Smith, CEO and co-founder of Blockchain


    9:45 am

    Session I: Does GDP still tell us what we need to know?

    The "digital economy" has given households access to many new, free, or low cost products. It has also allowed households to make more intensive use of assets that they already own via participation in the sharing economy and to substitute home production for market production. For producers, data has become a new kind of factor of production, and access to open-source software, cloud computing services, and increased opportunities for globalized production have allowed cost savings or tax savings. Do existing macroeconomic statistics still provide a full picture of changes in production, consumption and inflation, and if not, how can the new data needs be addressed?

    Chair: Louis Marc Ducharme, Director, Statistics Department, IMF


    Paul Schreyer, Deputy Chief Statistician, OECD  & Marshall Reinsdorf, Senior Economist, Statistics Department, IMF: Measuring Consumer Inflation in a Digital Economy 

    Paper , Presentation

    Rachel Soloveichik, Economist, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, “Measuring the ‘Free’ Digital Economy within the GDP and Productivity Accounts

    Paper , Presentation

    Discussant: Tamim Bayoumi, Deputy Director, Strategy, Policy and Review Dept., IMF

    Paper , Presentation

    11:00 am

    Coffee Break

    11:20 am

    Session II: Framing the Conceptual Issues

    What do we mean by “the digital economy” for purposes of macroeconomic and financial statistics? The existing conceptual framework for GDP offers logical coherence and is well-suited for analyzing key macroeconomic questions involving employment and government revenue, but digitalization has made the well-known limitations of GDP as a measure of well-being or total production more fundamental. What are the main conceptual issues, and what are the prospects for addressing them?

    Chair: Martin Muhleisen, Director of Strategy, Policy and Review Department, IMF


    Diane Coyle, Professor of Economics, University of Manchester: “Do-it-yourself digital: the production boundary, the productivity puzzle and economic welfare”

    Paper , Presentation

    Carol Corrado, Senior Advisor and Research Director in Economics, The Conference Board, “Accounting for Innovation in Consumer Digital Services: Implications for economic growth and consumer welfare”

    Paper Presentation

    Discussant: Vitor Gaspar, Director of Fiscal Affairs Department, IMF


    12:30 pm


    1:30 pm

    Guest Speaker, Seng Yee Lau, Senior Executive Vice President, Tencent: "China’s digital transformation: An analysis from a socio-economic perspective"


    2:00 pm

    Session III: Economic Effects of Digitalization

    To frame the context of the measurement discussion, we step back and consider how digitalization has changed the economy. For example, winner-take-all dynamics created by network effects have contributed to growing inequality, new ways of transacting have boosted economic activity, and the growth of ecommerce and the sharing economy may have contributed to deflationary pressures.

    Chair: Susan Swart, Director of Information Technology Department and Chief Information Officer, IMF

    Anton Korinek, Professor at Johns Hopkins University, “The Macroeconomics of Superstars” 

    Paper , Presentation

    Jérôme Coffinet, Head of Statistical Methods Division, Banque de France, “Effect of the Internet on inflation: evidence from the literature and empirical analysis

    Paper  , Presentation

    Sanna Ojanperä, Researcher, University of Oxford, “The Digital Knowledge Economy Index: Mapping Content Production”

    Paper , Presentation

    3:20 pm

    Coffee Break

    3:50 pm

    Session IV: How Big is the Digital Economy?

    The overall importance of possible errors in measuring the digital economy depends, in part, on its size. What do we know about the actual size and growth of key parts of the digital economy, such as B2C e-commerce, the sharing economy and international trade in digital services? How the size and structure of the digital economy vary across developing, emerging and advanced economies? Is there a good way to capture international trade in digital and digitally-enabled services? How has the use of mobile money and other kinds of e-money spread?

    Chair: Tobias Adrian, Director of Monetary and Capital Markets Department, IMF


    Fiona Greig, Director of Research, JP Morgan Chase Institute, The Online Platform Economy: Has Growth Peaked?

    Paper , Presentation

    Bitange Ndemo, Independent Director, Safaricom, “Growth of the Digital Economy" , "Impact of Mobile Money


    William Cheng, Senior Expert, Alibaba Research Institute, “Measuring the Digital Economy in China


    Alicia Garcia-Herrero,  Senior Research Fellow at BRUEGEL, “How big is China’s digital economy?

    Paper , Presentation

    4:50 pm

    Coffee Break

    5:10 pm

    Session V: State of play in national macroeconomic and financial statistics in capturing of the Digital Economy

    What are statistical agencies around the world doing to measure digital products or activity in national accounts, price statistics, labor statistics, balance of payments statistics and financial statistics? What are the innovations in data collection, compilation or reporting? How are Big Data techniques being used to measure the digital economy in macroeconomic and financial statistics? What do statistical agencies and other data compilers see as the main emerging challenges and opportunities?

    Chair: Lidia Bratanova, Director, Statistical Division, UNECE


    Erica Groshen, Visiting Senior Scholar at Cornell University, former US Commissioner of Labor Statistics, “How Government Statistics Adjust for Potential Biases from Quality Change and New Goods in an Age of Digital Technologies

    Paper  , Presentation

    Michael Hardie, Assistant Deputy Director of the Surveys and Economic Indicators Division, Office for National Statistics UK, “Measuring the Sharing Economy of the UK.”

    Paper  , Presentation

    James Tebrake, Director General, Macroeconomic Accounts, Statistics Canada, “Capturing the Digital Economy in Canada’s Macroeconomic Accounts”

    Paper , Presentation

    6:15 pm

    Cocktail Reception

    Friday, November 17, 2017 (Day 2)

    8:15 am

    Continental Breakfast

    9:00 am

    Session VI: Deflators for digital products: are they

    contributing to mismeasurement of productivity,

    growth and inflation?

    Under-adjustment for quality change in the deflators for ICT products has long been an issue in the measurement of GDP volume change, and the hallenges may have grown, as hard-to-measure software has increased in importance and new kinds of digitally-intermediated services have appeared in the “sharing economy.” What does the latest research show about the deflators for ICT equipment, software and new kinds of digital products, and what are the implications for the measurement of inflation/deflation, growth and productivity?

    Chair: Brian Moyer, Director, U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis


    David Byrne, Principal Economist, Federal Reserve Board, “The Rise of Cloud Computing: Minding Your P’s and Q’s (and K’s)

    Paper , Presentation

    Kenneth Flamm, Professor at University of Texas at Austin, “Measuring Moore’s Law: Evidence from Price, Cost, and Quality Indexes

    Paper  , Presentation

    Richard Heys, Deputy Chief Economist and Deputy Director for Economic Statistics Strategy, Research and Architecture at Office for National Statistics UK, “A Comparison of  Approaches to Deflating Telecoms Services Output”

    Paper , Presentation

    10:15 am

    Session VII: Digitalization and Consumer Welfare

    Free and new digital products are widely consumed throughout the world, and in developing countries mobile money and other Fintech innovations have notably expanded access to financial services for formerly unbanked households. GDP statistics may therefore not fully reflect growth in consumer welfare made possible by digitalization. What are the welfare effects of digitalization and how can we measure them?

    Chair: Erica Groshen, Visiting Senior Scholar at Cornell University, former US Commissioner of Labor Statistics


    Erik Brynjolffson, Director of the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy “Using Massive Online Experiments to Measure Changes in Well-being

    Paper , Presentation

    Eric Patrick FEUBI PAMEN, Researcher, Laboratory of Analysis and Research in Mathematical Economics, “Implications of Digitalization for Individuals’ Wellbeing in Cameroon”

    Paper , Presentation


    Coffee break

    11:30 am

    Closing Panel

    What lessons can we take away concerning the conceptual and compilation issues, size of the digital economy, and economic effects of digitalization, country experiences and potential policy implications of digital economy? The conclusions of the individual sessions will be discussed, aiming at agreeing on the way forward for statistics, to better serve economic analysis and policy-making. What practical steps can be taken to better measure the impact of the digital economy on output, productivity, prices, employment and welfare? What can macroeconomic statistics do to better inform the society of the impact of digitalization?

    Chair: Tao Zhang, Deputy Managing Director, IMF


    Seng Yee Lau, Senior Executive Vice President, Tencent

    Gabriel Quirós, Deputy Director, Statistics Department, IMF

    Carol Corrado, Senior Advisor and Research Director in Economics, The Conference Board

    12:45 pm

    Closing Remarks, David Lipton, First Deputy Managing Director, IMF