8th IMF Statistical Forum: Measuring the Economics of a Pandemic

November 18-19, 2020

The 8th Statistical Forum of the International Monetary Fund will take place in Washington, D.C. on November 18-19, 2020. 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 Economics of a Pandemic”. Today’s economy differs greatly from the economy of just a few short months ago, and many of these differences may persist in the post-pandemic era. The rapid spread of the coronavirus pandemic has also led to new challenges for statistical agencies, ranging from business continuity during emergency, to data collection, compilation, and dissemination of key macroeconomic statistics. It has also brought the need to modernize the overall statistical data compilation, production and dissemination.

The Statistical Forum Program Committee seeks proposals for empirical, conceptual and organizational related papers on how statistical compilers and other economic actors are addressing these challenges, including i) what will be the statistical lessons from the pandemic? ii) what are the policy-relevant data priorities? iii) how statisticians are developing and using new data sources, iv) to what extent are existing statistical compilation systems robust to shocks? and iv) could this pandemic be an accelerator of work to expand the scope and improve the timeliness of existing frameworks, data sources and estimation tools to better support evidence-based decision making? The structure of the conference is detailed in the online draft Program, attached to this Call for Papers.

Authors interested in contributing a paper to the Eighth Statistical Forum should submit an indication of interest noting the preferred session(s) from those in the Forum’s program, and short abstract by Tuesday, June 30, 2020 to STAForum@imf.org. Please use the contact author’s name as the name of the attached file. Authors of selected proposals will be contacted by Friday, July 10, 2020. The deadline for submitting a draft of the paper is October 9, and the final version and presentation is requested no later than October 30. In evaluating the proposals, the Program Committee will consider relevance to the theme and areas of interest of the Forum, originality, feasibility, and the importance of the contribution. Further information on the conference program will be posted here.

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Preliminary Program

This year’s Forum focuses on data needs for policymaking arising from the pandemic and the related statistical challenges. Taking stock of the on-going experience, the Forum will look into the implications for both users and producers of statistics as well as for the statistical systems themselves.

Session 1: The Economics of a Pandemic: What are the Data Needs?

Historically, crises have shown the importance of data that allow detection of vulnerabilities, assessment of their impact, and implementation of timely and targeted corrective measures. This time, the COVID-19 pandemic profoundly transformed the economic environment and created unprecedented statistical challenges in just a few weeks. The post-pandemic will likely see long-lasting effects on the functioning of the economy, including such things as consuming and working from home, patterns of demand, organization of production, global value chains, employment dynamics, income distribution as well as, financial conditions and stability. In this session policymakers and researches will discuss the emerging data needs.

Session 2: Weathering the Storm: Statistics at the Time of a Pandemic

The world’s national statistical offices, central banks and other government institutions, have been previously confronted to pandemics (e.g., SARS in 2002 and N1H1 in 2009) as well as, major natural disasters which disrupted statistical operations and challenged them to respond to new data needs. This time, the disruptions from the COVID-19 are of a larger scale and risk to be more long-lasting. In many cases, the current data sources and survey methods, have become overnight non-operational or even obsolete. At the same time, the pandemic may have created some new opportunities for innovation. How have statistical and data compilers overcome the challenges? In this session, statistical compilers and other economic actors will identify best practices and the lessons learnt.

Session 3: What are the data gaps?

In this session data users and producers will jointly assess the gap between the data needs arising from the pandemic as identified in Session 1 and the statistics available as discussed in Session 2. What are the most critical information gaps?

Session 4: Cost-benefit Analysis and Prioritization

Based on the gaps identified in Session 3, this session will focus on the costs and benefits of redesigning and adapting the statistical systems and implementing the measures identified by users and producers as priorities. In doing so, it will consider the large disparities across countries in statistical capacity, resource constraints, and access to new and innovative data sources. A systematic evaluation of both the costs of production and the expected benefits will be made. By confronting benefits and costs, the session will offer the necessary prioritization.

Session 5: What are the lessons in the long-term for the demand and supply of statistics?

This session will discuss how the statistical systems need to evolve to deliver the new priorities identified in Session 4. Which changes to the current statistical systems are both key for evidenced-based policymaking and feasible? Considerations will be given to a) the availability, accessibility and reliability of data sources, traditional and new, b) the availability of practical methods of estimation and compilation, and c) the resource constraints for statistics, particularly in countries with lower capacity.

Closing Panel