International Monetary Fund
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is a United Nations specialised agency, set up to secure international monetary cooperation, to stabilise currency exchange rates and to expand international liquidity. Together with the World Bank, the fund is often referred to as a Bretton Woods institution, after the place where the conference that led to their establishment took place in 1944. Since its creation, the IMF’s principal activities have included stabilising currency exchange rates, financing the short-term balance-of-payments deficits of member countries and providing advice and technical assistance to borrowing countries (Encyclopædia Britannica 2006). The IMF is also a major producer of statistics, publishing a range of time-series data on IMF lending, exchange rates and other economic and financial indicators.
The IMF holds several datasets and databases. See the IMF Data and Statistcs page for a full list. Only the IFS and the WEO is covered in detail in the Macro Data Guide.
World Economic Outlook
CVS, On-screen tables
approx. 200 countries
Data types and sources
Data mainly based on official registers and national accounts, compiled from the national statistical offices of the member states.
The WEO online database includes several time-series for various economic indicators, e.g. various GDP data, investment, inflation, unemployment rates, population, general government balance and debt, and current account balance.
The database covers close to 200 countries and territories.
Time coverage and updates
Data are available from 1980 to present. (The IMF has stopped providing data prior to 1980 due to difficulties in verifying the accuracy of the historical data. However, a broader historical coverage may be found in the sister publication IFS.) The WEO is released in April and September/October each year.
Definitions, sources and notes on specific circumstances are shown in the database as the user constructs a table.
Access conditions and cost
Available free of charge.
Each WEO version is downloadable individually. Selected series from the publication are available in a database format.
World Economic Outlook on Google Public Data Explorer offers select indicators from the latest online WEO database, such as GDP growth and inflation.
On-screen tables. Download available in CSV format.
Comparability and data quality
IMF data are frequently used in international comparisons, and the quality of the data is generally assumed to be fairly high. However, as with other international organisations, the data come from the statistical systems of member countries and the quality therefore depends on how well these national systems perform. For some countries, data are incomplete or unavailable for certain years. There are also several incidences of apparent discrepancies for similarly defined variables (Pellechio and Cady 2006).
Pellechio, Anthony, and John Cady. 2006. Differences in IMF Data: Incidence and Implications. IMF Staff Papers 53 (2): 326-349.