Opening remarks - Seventh Irving Fisher Committee Conference on Central Bank Statistics

Opening remarks by Mr Hervé Hannoun, Deputy General Manager of the BIS, at the Seventh Irving Fisher Committee Conference on Central Bank Statistics, Basel, 4 September 2014.

The focus of today's conference is particularly apt: "Indicators to support Monetary and Financial Stability Analysis: Data Sources and Statistical Methodologies". In the wake of the global financial crisis, it is indeed the right time to revisit the data sets we need for financial and monetary stability purposes.

Indeed, the increasing involvement of central banks in macroprudential policy will certainly bring new data requirements, in addition to those required for supporting monetary policy. Data collections, processing and analysis will all need to adapt accordingly. The specific topics of the various sessions indicate the richness of new initiatives. These include new indicators for financial stability analysis; new statistical techniques and methodologies, particularly the use of surveys by central banks; and ventures into new domains such as those related to household finance. I very much look forward to the summaries of your deliberations that will be included in the next IFC Annual Report to Governors.

Financial stability is a field where the IFC has already made substantial contributions towards improving statistics of interest to central banks. I need only cite your 2008 workshop on securities statistics, which resulted in the joint BIS, ECB and IMF Handbook on Securities Statistics. Likewise, your work on housing price statistics led to the Handbook on Residential Property Price Statistics and further initiatives by the BIS on global property prices. And it was at the IFC conference in mid-2008 that the idea was first floated of identifying possible data gaps as revealed by the global financial crisis. This, in a sense, foreshadowed the launch of the Data Gaps Initiative by the G20, the Financial Stability Board and the IMF.

As monetary stability is no less important, I find it highly appropriate that the first session of this conference is devoted to "New monetary policy indicators". No topic could be more topical, given the vigour of the current debate about the supposed threat of deflation. But no debate can be productive, especially at the policy level, unless the supporting data are sound. In this light, measures of inflation and inflation expectations are surely an appropriate focus for an intensive review by central bank statisticians - and I would like to raise the question here if the IFC might not play a catalytic role in that process. Let me start by revisiting the intricacies of inflation measurement.