Section Notes


The Free Data Initiative

"The free data program will help all those who draw on our data to make better use of this vital statistical resource—from budget numbers to balance-of-payments data, debt statistics to critical global indicators."

—IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, Second IMF Statistical Forum November 18–19, 2014

Highlights from the Second IMF Statistical Forum, November 18-19, 2014

Accurate, timely statistics are the lifeblood of economic policymaking and analysis. Good data can help policymakers identify and manage macroeconomic and financial vulnerabilities and can greatly enhance policy transparency.

Over the years, policymakers and investors generally have had access to reliable and timely economic data, but large segments of the public in member countries have not been able to benefit from data that help identify emerging economic risks requiring policy adjustments.

Cross-country databases often have been the domain of international organizations. In many instances, these databases have been available only by subscription. That approach is now changing with a global shift toward free data.

Data free of charge for all users

In January 2015, the IMF made its online statistical data available free of charge to all users. While these data had previously been available for free to users from low-income countries, the IMF now grants everyone access to a wealth of macroeconomic data covering all economic sectors across a large part of the IMF’s membership.

During the first three months of the free data regime at the IMF, the average monthly user base rose by more than 90 percent to more than 262,000 users from 185 countries. This generated an overall increase in monthly traffic of close to 40 percent.

Free Data

This generated an overall increase in monthly traffic of close to 40 percent.

The policy was introduced along with technological improvements, including a new online data portal and an enhanced dissemination platform. The platform provides greater capability for dynamic data visualization, downloading, and sharing.

The databases that were made free of charge include:

International Financial Statistics: A library of continuously updated statistics on all aspects of international and domestic finance.

Balance-of-Payments Statistics: Balance-of-payments and international investment position data of individual countries, jurisdictions, and other reporting entities, and regional and world totals for major components of the balance of payments, with history to 1960.

Government Finance Statistics: Comprehensive annual data covering various levels of government—including general, central, state, and local governments, with history to 1990.

Directions of Trade Statistics: Database of exports and imports between countries and areas with their trading partners, with history to 1980.

See for yourself

The free data are online at: