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The International Monetary Fund held the Second IMF Statistical Forum on Statistics for Policymaking—Identifying Macroeconomic and Financial Vulnerabilities at its headquarters in Washington, DC on November 18–19, 2014.

The forum brought together data users, providers, and policymakers to exchange views on cutting-edge statistical issues. The high-level discussions touched upon themes such as key market indicators, real estate prices, the use of survey data for policymaking, the use of “Big Data,” and analytical techniques to measure interconnectedness and spillovers for systemic risk assessment and macroeconomic surveillance.

The next IMF Statistical Forum will be held jointly with the Bundesbank in Frankfurt on November 18-19, 2015. The conference is by invitation only.


November 18, 2014

8:45 a.m.

Introductory Remarks
Louis Marc Ducharme, Director, Statistics Department, IMF

9:00 a.m.

Welcome Remarks
Christine Lagarde, Managing Director, IMF   

9:20 a.m.

Keynote Speech
Alan Greenspan, President, Greenspan Associates LLC, and former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board

10:00 a.m.

Session I
Are There Enough and Good Data to Assess Macroeconomic and Financial Vulnerabilities?

Richard Berner, Director, Office of Financial Research, U.S. Treasury

Presentation by Richard Berner

The burden of the assessment of macroeconomic and financial vulnerabilities lies on reliable and timely data, as well as on data availability. However, policymakers and academics often talk about data gaps for assessment of vulnerabilities. This session will focus on six main questions: (i) do we have enough data and do we have appropriate data to make an informed and timely assessment of economic vulnerabilities? (ii) do we use available data efficiently for vulnerability assessment? (iii) do we have/utilize appropriate analytical tools to use the data effectively? (iv) what are the urgent data gaps that need to be filled in? (v) does the global community discuss any improvements on data gaps compared to what existed during the global financial crisis (2007-08)? and (vi) are "data gaps" region-specific?

Chair: Olivier Blanchard, Director, Research Department, IMF

Discussant: Dietrich Domanski, Head of Policy Analysis, Bank for International Settlements

Presentation by Dietrich Domanski

Discussant: Ricardo Vicuña, Director, Statistics Division, Central Bank of Chile

Presentation by Ricardo Vicuña

Discussant: Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’'s Analytics

11:15 a.m.

Coffee Break and Exhibition Visit (Atrium)

11:45 a.m.

Session II
Cross-Border Linkages - Identifying and Measuring Vulnerabilities

Philip Lane, Whately Professor of Political Economy, Trinity College Dublin

Paper and Presentation by Philip Lane

Increased globalization has brought substantial benefits; but it has also amplified countries’ vulnerabilities. In a highly interconnected world, shocks propagation can be magnified and rapidly transmitted across the global system, while uncoordinated country policy response can be insufficient to mitigate the shocks. This session will focus on the developed/existing tools used to identify and measure interconnectedness and spillovers for systemic risk assessment and macroeconomic surveillance, as well as on the need for cooperation/coordination in macroeconomic and financial policymaking.

Chair: Changyong Rhee, Director, Asia and Pacific Department, IMF

Discussant: Augusto de la Torre, Chief Economist for Latin America and the Caribbean, World Bank

Discussant: Linda Goldberg, Vice President, Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Presentation by Linda Goldberg

Discussant: Francis Gross, Head, External Statistics Division, European Central Bank

Presentation by Francis Gross

1:00 p.m.

Luncheon Address (Conference Hall 2, by invitation only)
Can Big Data Spot Economic Crises?

Robert Kirkpatrick, Director, UN Global Pulse

Presentation by Robert Kirkpatrick

Can we predict the next economic crises? How can we detect and analyze earlier signals of economic change in countries? What type of data are we missing? Can we collect and make sense of the large volume of data that are being produced?

Robert Kirkpatrick will talk about how the UN is using Big Data sources and how this could be applied to other official statistical organizations.

2:30 p.m.

Session III
Use of Short-term Indicators and Survey Data for Policymaking

Martine Durand, Chief Statistician and Director of Statistics Directorate, OECD

Presentation by Martine Durand

Economists use a wide range of tools and information to understand short-term economic activity. Short-term indicators give a synthetic picture of the macroeconomic situation in the recent past. They are often augmented by the economic survey data. In combination, these data are used to anticipate the turning points in business cycles, for nowcasting, and forecasting. In addition, survey data are often used to assess recent macroeconomic developments and as inputs into monetary policy and business decisions. This session will focus on such important issues as (i) timeliness, reliability, and comparability of the short-term indicators and survey data across countries; (ii) advantages and disadvantages of survey data in comparison to the short-term indicators; and (iii) use of short-term indicators and survey data for policy analysis and forecasting.

Key questions:

  • What are the short-term indicators and forward-looking indicators that are routinely used for macroeconomic analysis? To what extent are such indicators essential?
  • What and how are survey data being used to augment short-term indicators to help policy and business decision making? What role do survey data play in designing and implementing macroeconomic policies?
  • Are there any new techniques that could be effectively employed in efficiently using the short-term indicators for economic analyses?

Chair: Antoinette Sayeh, Director, African Department, IMF

Discussant: Shaida Badiee, Managing Director and Co-Founder, Open Data Watch, Inc., and former Director of Development Data Group, World Bank

Discussant: Ian Ewing, Deputy Australian Statistician, Australian Bureau of Statistics

Commentary by Ian Ewing

Discussant: Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of State in charge of Economic Planning, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda

Presentation by Uzziel Ndagijimana

3:45 p.m.

Coffee Break and Exhibition Visit (Atrium)

4:00 p.m.

Session IV
Real Estate Prices—–Availability, Importance, and New Developments

Robert Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics, Yale University

Presentation by Robert Shiller

Mick Silver, Principal Statistical Methodologist, Statistics Department, IMF

Paper and Presentation by Mick Silver

Real estate price indices are important financial soundness and early warning indicators. Indeed, unjustifiably sharp growth in real estate prices in the developed countries was one of the triggers of the recent global financial crisis. There has been much progress on the methodological front, including the publication of international standards on measurement and a substantial increase in the dissemination of these indices by agencies that include the BIS, ECB, Eurostat, and IMF. Despite this, many countries still do not collect any information on real estate markets; whereas others have at their disposal a feast of several real estate price indices derived by different, often private, organizations based on differing methodologies, which have issues with coverage and timeliness. This session will focus on methodological and practical issues related to the compilation and the use of real estate price indices for macroeconomic analysis and policymaking.

Chair: Prakash Loungani, Advisor, Research Department, IMF

Discussant: David Geltner, Professor, Department of Urban Studies, Center for Real Estate, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Presentation by David Geltner

Discussant: Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American

Presentation by Mark Fleming

Discussant: Chihiro Shimizu, Professor, Department of Economics, Reitaku University

Presentation by Chihiro Shimizu

Closing Remarks: Robert Shiller, Sterling Professor of Economics, Yale University

6:00 p.m.

Cocktail Reception (Conference Hall 2)

November 19, 2014

8:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast (Conference Hall 1) and Exhibition Visit (Atrium) from 8:30a.m.

9:30 a.m.

Panel Discussion on Data Quality and Evidence-Based Policymaking

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

Participant: Willem Buiter, Global Chief Economist, Citigroup

Participant: Rudi Acx, Head, Statistics Department, National Bank of Belgium

Presentation by Rudi Acx

Participant: Ivan Fellegi, Chief Statistician of Canada Emeritus, Statistics Canada

Presentation by Ivan Fellegi

Participant: Masood Ahmed, Director, Middle East and Central Asia Department, IMF

10:45 a.m.

Coffee Break and Exhibition Visit (Atrium)

11:00 a.m.

Round Table Discussion on Economic Statistics: Agenda for the Future

The conclusions on sessions on vulnerabilities, short-term indicators, big data, real estate prices, and data quality issues will indicate directions for future work in official statistics. Do those conclusions indicate that statisticians are keeping up with new economic developments or falling behind? What other emerging issues will bring demands for new statistical work? What existing work can be cut back to provide resources for new areas? Can we suggest possibilities for what may be coming "out of left field" in the future?

Chair: Min Zhu, Deputy Managing Director, IMF

Participant: Richard Berner, Director, Office of Financial Research (OFR), U.S. Treasury

Participant: Willem Buiter, Global Chief Economist, Citigroup

Participant: Martine Durand, Chief Statistician and Director of Statistics Directorate, OECD

Participant: Uzziel Ndagijimana, Minister of State in Charge of Economic Planning, Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Rwanda

12:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks

Robert Heath, Deputy Director, Statistics Department, IMF

Closing Remarks and Presentation by Robert Heath


The website contains papers and web links to papers that will be presented at the Second IMF Statistical Forum. The views expressed in these papers and presentations are those of the authors only, and the presence of them, or of links to them, on the IMF website does not imply that the IMF, its Executive Board, or its management endorses or shares the views expressed in the papers.

Forum Program Committee (all IMF):

Louis Marc Ducharme (Chair), Robert Heath, Roberto Rosales, and Rainer Koehler

Forum Coordinators: Gersenda Varisco and Maria Delariarte