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The Politics of IMF Forecasts


  • Axel Dreher
  • Silvia Marchesi
  • James Raymond Vreeland


Using panel data for 157 countries over the period 1999-2005 we empirically investigate the politics involved in IMF economic forecasts. We find a systematic bias in growth and inflation forecasts. Our results indicate that countries voting in line with the US in the UN General Assembly receive lower inflation forecasts. As the US is the Fund’s major shareholder, this result supports the hypothesis that the Fund’s forecasts are not purely based on economic considerations. We further find inflation forecasts are systematically biased downwards for countries with greater IMF loans outstanding relative to GDP, indicating that the IMF engages in “defensive forecasting.” Countries with a fixed exchange rate regime also receive low inflation forecasts. Considering the detrimental effects that inflation can have under such an exchange rate regime, we consider this evidence consistent with the Fund’s desire to preserve economic stability.

Suggested Citation

  • Axel Dreher & Silvia Marchesi & James Raymond Vreeland, 2007. "The Politics of IMF Forecasts," Working Papers 124, University of Milano-Bicocca, Department of Economics, revised Oct 2007.
  • Handle: RePEc:mib:wpaper:124

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Kilby, Christopher, 2009. "The political economy of conditionality: An empirical analysis of World Bank loan disbursements," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 51-61, May.
    2. Reynaud, Julien & Vauday, Julien, 2009. "Geopolitics and international organizations: An empirical study on IMF facilities," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 89(1), pages 139-162, May.
    3. Cust,James Frederick & Mihalyi,David, 2017. "Evidence for a presource curse ? oil discoveries, elevated expectations, and growth disappointments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 8140, The World Bank.
    4. Reynaud, Julien & Vauday, Julien, 2008. "IMF lending and geopolitics," Working Paper Series 965, European Central Bank.
    5. Rülke Jan-Christoph, 2012. "Do Private Sector Forecasters Desire to Deviate From the German Council of Economic Experts?," Journal of Economics and Statistics (Jahrbuecher fuer Nationaloekonomie und Statistik), De Gruyter, vol. 232(4), pages 414-428, August.

    More about this item


    IMF; Economic Forecasts; Political Influence;

    JEL classification:

    • C23 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Models with Panel Data; Spatio-temporal Models
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F34 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Lending and Debt Problems

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