Listening to Advice: Assessing the External Impact of IMF Article IV Consultations of the United States, 2010–2011


  • Thanks are due to Assefaw Bariagaber, Howard Schneider, and Thomas Willett. This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 0960422. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
  • [Corrections added 5 February 2015, after original online publication: grammatical changes have been made to this article to improve clarity.]


Since 1997, the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) role in surveillance of member countries has changed dramatically. Surveillance, as mandated in Article IV of the Articles of Agreement, has moved from a private process to a public one, with documentation from the consultation freely available at the Fund's Website. But does this public process of surveillance make a difference in generating policy debates? To answer this question, we evaluate whether the Fund's Article IV review was referenced on Capitol Hill and by the White House during two consecutive reviews in the summers of 2010 and 2011. Given the debate about the debt ceiling, the summer of 2011 is a most likely case for the Fund's advice to enter into the policy process. There is little evidence that findings from these reports percolated into the public sphere, casting doubt on the effectiveness of IMF surveillance in developed countries.