The Independent Evaluation Office (IEO) report on the Fund’s multilateral surveillance concluded that the Fund’s activities lacked focus and did not pay enough attention to analysing cross-border spillovers. “The IMF needs to strengthen the multilateral dimension of surveillance, particularly for ‘systemically important’ countries.” The report noted that this has long been a goal, but that implementation has repeatedly failed.
The IEO recommendations may have set it at odds to management. It suggested that the IMF simply interact more effectively in other existing fora for discussion of the global economy, such as the G7 and the G20, to create, “a more robust global peer review system”. But after considering the report, IMF director Rodrigo de Rato instead proposed to put the IMF centre-stage in global economic policy making by creating a system of multilateral consultations (see Update 51).
The Fund also came in for criticism in the use of surveillance. While finding the products “well crafted” and containing “high-quality analysis”, the IEO was “struck by the low readership (both internally and externally)” of one of the main reports of the Fund, the World Economic Outlook (WEO). It called for IMF reports to “present a much shorter and more focused message.” In contrast the IMF has recently expanded its number of reports to try to cover more topics, such as the move to create Regional Economic Outlooks to complement the WEO. If management takes on board the advice of the IEO, this plethora of reports will stop describing recent economic developments and will instead focus on policy spillovers and economic interlinkages.