IMF warns key economic indicators may be less accurate due to coronavirus pandemic

IMF warns key economic indicators may be less accurate due to coronavirus pandemic
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The International Money Fund (IMF) has signaled that key economic indicators may be skewed and less accurate due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In a blog post this week, the IMF laid out "Three key statistical challenges" that have presented themselves during the pandemic.

"First, many staff in national statistical offices are now working from home due to lockdowns, often with limited access to the tools and data they need to produce and disseminate economic indicators," the organization said, citing that the "calculation of retail prices that often requires physical visits to stores but this is currently not possible in many countries."

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It added, "Inconsistent approaches to recording government support to people and businesses may complicate the assessment of their impact on public finances. ... To make the best-informed decisions, policymakers need a real-time readout of the economy. Many traditional official statistics—even those with monthly frequency—are just not sufficiently up to date to be useful at this time."

The IMF's words – first reported by CNBC – come as many countries are beginning to release GDP numbers for the first quarter of 2020. GDP, or gross domestic product, indicates the general size of an economy and is widely used across the world. The U.S. has the highest GDP in the world, reported at $21.44 trillion at the beginning of the year.

There are over 5.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 across the world, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The U.S. has more than 1.7 million confirmed cases with over 100,000 deaths.