History of the Irving Fisher Committee on Central Bank Statistics

Updated 17 May 2016

The Irving Fisher Committee on Central Bank Statistics (IFC) was established on the initiative of a number of central bank statisticians who were attending the International Statistical Institute (ISI) Corporate Members Meeting at the 1995 ISI Session in Beijing.

The IFC has adopted the name of Irving Fisher, an internationally renowned economist and statistician, for his work on economic measurement and many other topics related to monetary and financial stability of interest to central banks. His wide-ranging contributions to economics and statistics and his multi-disciplinary approach serve as an example for the IFC's objectives and activities.

In 1997, during the 51st ISI Session in Istanbul, the IFC held its inaugural meeting. At the "administrative meeting" held during that Session an Executive Body was established and it was decided to start publishing the IFC Bulletin devoted to the activities of the IFC.

Two years later, at the 52nd ISI Session in Helsinki, the IFC's presence was further strengthened. Here a new Executive Body was elected and a Programme Committee was instituted.

In 2001, at the 53rd ISI Session in Seoul, the IFC presented a programme comprising an invited papers meeting on "Financial Stability Statistics" and several contributed papers meetings, at which more than 20 papers were presented. Each of these meetings was attended by 30-60 persons.

In 2002, a conference on "Challenges to Central Bank Statistical Activities" was organised in co-operation with the Bank for International Settlements, which hosted the conference at its premises in Basel. 160 statisticians representing 73 countries and a number of international organisations participated. Some 50 papers were presented.

In 2003, at the 54th ISI Session in Berlin, the IFC participated with nearly 40 papers, presented in two Invited Papers Meetings and three Contributed Papers Meetings. The General Assembly of the ISI accorded to the IFC the Status of an independent ISI Section on a provisional basis up to the 55th ISI Session (Sydney, April 2005), when a final decision was to be taken.

In 2004, the IFC organised its second independent conference at the Bank for International Settlements on the topic of "Central Bank Issues Regarding National and Financial Accounts". The meeting was attended by more than 120 central bank economists and statisticians from about 60 countries, who together presented more than 50 papers. In the margin of this conference, and with the assistance of the BIS Economic Adviser, a core group of central banks discussed the findings of a membership survey which was carried out by the IFC Executive and discussed possible ways forward for the Committee.

In April 2005 the Committee organised four meetings at the 55th ISI Session held in Sydney. At this Session the ISI extended the provisional status of independent section of the IFC for an indefinite period. Following the review of the governance structure of the IFC (including the adoption of official statutes) by the Committee itself and further discussions within the ISI about its own structure and operation, the status of the Committee would be reviewed again at the 56th ISI Session in Lisbon.

In June 2005 the Committee co-sponsored a workshop at the Bank of Canada in Ottawa on the topic of "Data Requirements for Analysing the Stability and Vulnerability of Mature Financial Systems". Attendance of this workshop was by invitation only. The proceedings of the workshop, including an overall summary of its findings were published as a special IFC Bulletin. The findings were presented at the BIS Committee on the Global Financial System.

With the help of a core group of central banks participating in key BIS meetings, the Chair and Executive of the IFC developed draft statutes for the Committee at the end of 2005. These foresaw that the Committee would continue to operate under the ISI but would also become a BIS-based group, with its Secretariat provided by the BIS. In early January 2006 the BIS agreed that it would be pleased to host the IFC and its Secretariat (see press release).

During the course of 2006, the IFC engaged itself in the implementation of a new governance structure. As a starting point, central banks which are shareholders of the BIS were invited to formally become institutional members of the Committee. Most of them have accepted the invitation and at the end of August 2006 the Committee boasted no less than 53 institutional members. The IFC Committee, which comprises the official representatives of the institutional members, had its first meeting on 29 August 2006.

In August 2013, the IFC became an affiliated member of the ISI. A Memorandum of Understanding between ISI and IFC was signed during the ISI World Statistics Congress in Hong Kong by ISI President Jae C Lee and IFC Chairperson Muhammed bin Ibrahim.