Published on Development Impact

Is IMF Research biased?

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The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) of the IMF released a report on the research produced at the IMF (press release here), which ranges from selected issues papers (SIP) to World Economic Outlook (WEO) to working papers and journal articles. Two conclusions are worth noting.

First, and quite pertinent to my post on working papers last week, while the IEO praises the quality of some outputs such as the WEO, it notes that the quality of the non-peer-reviewed work, i.e the SIP and the WPs, is, on average, lower and more variable. It calls for more rigorous review of this type of work even if it means lower quantity output.

Second, it seems that freedom of speech may be an issue for the researchers:


"...many authorities reported that IMF research was message-driven, and many staff indicated that they often felt pressure to align their conclusions with IMF views. To enhance their quality, reputation, and utilization, working papers should reflect the results of technical analysis even if these are not well aligned with messages in surveillance activities documents."


Statement by the Acting Managing Director says that he (or she) is heartened by the findings. No comment...

On a separate note, the DI blog will be going into a slightly less intense schedule for the summer. Instead of posting daily between Monday-Thursday and then having David's "IE Links of the Week" on Fridays, we will have three posts per week, which will allow each of us to take a couple of weeks off until Labor Day. We'll go back to the regular volume after Labor Day.


Berk Özler

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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