The IMF COVID-19 Surveillance Tracker

International Monetary Fund. Photo via Shutterstock.

Promoting stability on a global scale is a core component of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s mandate, and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the financial stability of nearly every country, with  associated losses likely to surpass the 2008-09 Global Financial Crisis. Senior IMF officials have since called for “exceptional action” to support health systems, protect vulnerable people and firms and build a recovery that is resilient to climate change. 

A new journal article in the Journal of Global Governance by Luma Ramos and Kevin P. Gallagher evaluates IMF surveillance documents between 2019 and 2020 to assess how the IMF has taken steps towards supporting these areas. To that end, the authors created the IMF COVID-19 Surveillance Monitor, which relies on textual analysis techniques applied to IMF Article IV consultations.

The paper finds that, before the pandemic, supporting health systems, protecting the vulnerable and building resilience to climate change received relatively little attention in Article IV consultations, with fiscal issues dominating the discussion. The consultations conducted in 2020 show some timely incremental shifts toward  health systems and protecting the vulnerable; however, contrary to recent rhetoric, the preliminary analysis shows the Fund still lacks sufficient attention to climate change in its surveillance documents.

As the Fund incorporates its new Comprehensive Surveillance Review guidance, ,it  should be sure to maintain these flexibilities and incorporate both physical and transition risks from climate change, which are emerging as some of the largest macro-critical issues of our time. This method explores a new frontier in analyzing and measuring institutional changes almost in real-time, and provides a foundational step in  tracking institutions’ activities in the future.

This journal article was originally published as a working paper in March 2021.

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