Guide to IMF International Financial Statistics

INTRODUCTION

Published monthly since 1948, International Financial Statistics (IFS) is the International Monetary Fund’s principal statistical publication and is the standard source for all aspects of international and domestic finance. It reports, for most countries, time series data on exchange rates, balance of payments, international liquidity, money and banking, interest rates, prices, production, international transactions, government accounts, national accounts and population.

It contains over 67,000 monthly, quarterly and annual time series data. Most annual data begin in 1948; quarterly and monthly data generally begin in 1957; most balance of payments data begin in 1970.

Selected data, including data on Fund accounts, international reserves and international trade, are also aggregated into regional and world tables. Data are reported in a mixture of indexes, national currencies, US Dollars and SDRs (the basket currency the Fund uses as a unit of account).

The IFS has a number of series expressed as indices (such as consumer prices or industrial production). In these series the data are expressed in terms of a base year value of 100 and all changes are expressed as a per cent change from that base. For instance, a value of 105 means the variable measured by the index has risen by 5 per cent compared with the base year. The IMF usually reports indexed series using 2005 as the base year (i.e. 2005 = 100 per cent). However, for a very small number of series a different base year may be used. This is always indicated in the series name.

Some indexed series are compiled from reported versions of national indices and some from absolute data. Countries report data in a variety of base years. Where a country has reported an index using a base year other than 2005, the IMF generally converts the series to the common base year of 2005. 

Main topics

The IFS data are drawn from a huge variety of sources including government departments, national accounts, central banks, the UN, Eurostat, the International Labour Organization and private financial institutions.

The IMF's Find Concepts for Codes document may help you find the new IMF data concepts that match the codes. This list of concepts is what economists in the IMF use to navigate through data.

Each time series in the IFS carries a unique identification code consisting of a three-digit country code and a five-digit character subject code (called a line number). Line numbers apply uniformly across countries, that is, a given line number measures the same economic variable for each country subject to data availability. The line numbers take the form of two numerics (N) followed by three alphabetic (a) codes (line number = NNaaa). The two numerics are the section and subsection codes, the first two alphabetic codes are the classification codes and the last alphabetic code is the qualification code. Any of these positions may be blank (indicated by a dot). For example, the code for the national currency per SDR exchange rate for Argentina is 213..AA.ZF. 213 is the Argentinean country code and the following 5 digits/characters ‘..AA.’ are the line number. The comparable series for Brazil is ‘223..AA.ZF’. Note this comparable series contains the same line number after the country code.

The line number may be followed by further characters, e.g. 'ZF' indicating the version of the series. For most series there is only a Z version, i.e. the first (earliest) version. For constant price GDP series (99b.p and 99b.r), successive versions - Z, Y, X, W, etc. are applied to reflect the different base years sequentially, starting with the earliest year, followed by the more recent years.

Series with the line number ‘..rf.’ are the period average national currency units per US dollar, and those with the line number ‘..rh.’ are the period average US dollar per national currency. These are the series used by the IMF and many other international governmental organisations as the bases for currency conversions in other databanks. For example, the data in the UNIDO Industrial Statistics databases as converted using data from these series.

In the International Investment Position series titles, you may see an abbreviation 'EPS'. This means End of Period Stocks.

Exchange rate series '..de.' and '..dg.' are end of period rates and are identical to market rates (respectively, '..ae.' and '..ag.') after June 1974 when the basket valuation system for the SDR was introduced. '..de.' and '..dg.' series were used as conversion factors for the calculation of IFS reserves and monetary data and were referred to as the fixed rate with narrow margins. Beginning May 1971 through June 1974 when some countries did not have effective fixed rates for various periods, '..de.' and '..dg.' were updated with the latest available parities or central rates except for the Canadian dollar, Irish pound, Italian lira, Japanese yen, and pound sterling, for which market rates were used.

  • Line ..RF. is the nominal market exchange rate
  • Line ..REU is the real effective change rate

Note: the IFS yearbook mentions that for an explanation of series af, ah, de, dg, rb and rd, we should see the IFS Supplement on Exchange Rates, No. 9 (1985) but this supplement is no longer in print so if you do need further explanation of these series, please contact us.

The export/import values, export/import volumes, and export/import price indexes data series in the IFS are described in section 8 of the International Transaction section of the IMFs Introduction to the IFS.

  • Line 70 and 71 are exports and imports in nominal terms -- the value series
  • Line 72 and 73 are exports and imports in real terms -- the volume series
  • Line 76 is the price indexes

Please note that not all countries report their data for all three concepts.

Note: Beginning with the August 2007 issue, the IFS is presenting annual, quarterly and monthly government finance statistics based on the analyticial framework of the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001). Previously it was based on the Government Finance Statistics Manual 1986 (GFSM 1986). The change reflects the progress made by many countries in compiling both annual and subannual GFS using the GFSM 2001 methodology.

A considerable number of countries now provide monthly budgetary (or central government) data on a cash basis in the Statement of Sources and Uses of Cash and/or quarterly general (or central) government data on an accrual basis in the Statement of Government Operations. These are supplemented, where available, by balance sheet information. The IMF's Statistics Department is working with national authorities to further increase the number of countries reporting these statements and to ensure the most up-to-date data.

For technical reasons, a hyphen indicates a blank character instead of a period in UKDS.Stat.

For countries that have not yet compiled and reported subannual GFSM 2001-based series, the IMF Statistics Department has, to the extent possible, converted existing subannual IFS data to the main aggregates that are presented in the GFSM 2001 Statement of Sources and Uses of Cash (see the Introduction of the IFS publication for details). For the benefit of users, the IFS Yearbook 2007 will provide GFS historical data that were reported, through June 2007, according to the framework of the Manual on Government Finance Statistics,1986. Should you need further clarification, please contact the Government Finance Division of the Statistics Department (STAGODATA@IMF.ORG). 

IMF IFS Country Codes

The IFS database contains country tables for most Fund members, as well as for some additional countries, regional groups and non-sovereign territorial entities for which statistics are provided internationally on a separate basis. In addition, for series relating to SDR holdings, the IFS contains data on all other entities prescribed by the IMF to be 'holders' of SDRs, including organizations such as the Bank for International Settlements and Arab Monetary Fund.

Access IMF data

Access to the IMF International Financial Statistics via UKDS.Stat is available to all UK Further/Higher Education (FE/HE) users, including undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and staff at an FE/HE institution in the UK.

User Resources

The IMF produces the following user documentation:

Selecting data in UKDS.Stat for the IMF International Financial Statistics

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