November 2022 extension and revision

Classifications and country details have now been added for the following countries: Czechoslovakia, 1974-92; Cuba; Korea, Democratic People’s Republic (north); Yemen Arab Republic (north), 1974-89; Yemen, People’s Democratic Republic (south), 1974-89; USSR 1974-91; and Yugoslavia 1974-91. That makes a total of 186 countries/currency areas, which include all separate and independent countries with populations over 250,000 from 1974 to 2017 (plus the East Caribbean Currency Union which meets the population criterion in aggregate).

With the inclusion of the USSR it makes sense to bring together the previous Other Europe and Caucasus & Central Asia groups in a single group called Other Europe, Caucasus and Central Asia, or OECCA, which also now includes the USSR and Yugoslavia up to 1991.

The advanced plus emerging economies, the group first classified, has been separated into two groups, advanced and emerging. Most of the emerging economies, but not the advanced ones, figure in one of the regional groupings as well, while a few North African countries appear in both the MENA and the African regional groupings.

A small number of minor revisions have also been made. The previous versions of the country details and classifications for the various groups can be found on the Archive page.

The Countries page now contains links to the sets of details for each grouping, plus links to the details for each country in alphabetical order.

Thanks again to Bram Boskamp for redoing the visualisations, which now include a differentiation between low, lower middle, upper middle and high income groups (as defined by the World Bank for 2005) as well as the regional and other groupings used so far, and to Alex Cobham for solving a website problem. Responsibility rests with David Cobham, who will update the classification in due course.

June 2022 Monetary Policy Frameworks goes global with the Caribbean, Other Europe and the Caucasus and Central Asia

This Comprehensive Monetary Policy Frameworks (CMPF) classification now includes, in addition to the regions and groups previously covered, the Caribbean, Other Europe (essentially Albania plus countries that came out of Yugoslavia or the USSR), the Caucasus and Central Asia (other countries that came out of the USSR) and Macao (now included in Asia Emerging and Developing) which had been mistakenly omitted.

In total, that means that 179 countries (and/or currency areas) are now included in the classification, for the 44 years from 1974 (or later when a country has not existed for the full period) to 2017. To be updated in due course!

It also means that the classification now covers the whole world as of 2017, with the exception of countries whose population is less than 250,000 (most of which fix their exchange rates in one way or another), and two non-members of the IMF for which it is hard to find the information required: Cuba and North Korea. It is also does not yet cover the USSR 1974-91 or Yugoslavia 1974-91. To be completed in due course!

December 2021 Extension: Africa emerging and developing

The classification has now been extended to cover the whole of Africa (except for Sao Tome and Principe, and Seychelles, which each have population < 250,000). This means a total of 52 countries, of which six – Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia – are also included in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) category, and three – Egypt, Morocco and South Africa – are also included in the emerging economy group. There are also two currency areas, the west and central African CFA franc zones. This makes a total of 154 countries (and/or currency areas) now classified.

September 2020: Reflections on the first 100 countries

Image credit: “The Forth Bridge, a Unesco World Heritage site. Scotland” by Chris Golightly is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

This website exists to provide a repository for an original database of monetary policy frameworks, classified according to a more detailed and multi-dimensional set of criteria than has been used before, with the rationale for the individual country classifications made available through the country details. Since February 2018 when the site was launched and the original working paper finalised (revised version now published in Oxford Economic Papers here), work has continued to expand the coverage.

We now cover 107 countries (and/or currency areas, such as the Eurozone): to the 27 ‘advanced’ and 33 ‘emerging’ countries initially included have been added an additional 15 Middle East and North African countries, 14 Latin American countries, and 18 Asian countries/currency areas. Together, these account for roughly 95% of world GDP and around 84% of world population.

The first major trend revealed by the data is the move away from exchange rate targets and towards domestic, particularly inflation, targets. This can be seen clearly in the visualisations for different groups of countries, in terms of the full menu or the aggregation by target variables (and with the charts scaled in different ways). This trend is very clear for the advanced countries, strong for emerging and Latin American countries, but much less strong in the MENA and Asian groupings.

The second major trend is the move towards frameworks whose more sophisticated financial and monetary infrastructure offers higher – substantial and intensive – degrees of monetary control, as seen in the visualisations for the different country groups by degree of monetary control. This trend is more consistent across country groupings.

It may also be useful to ask how the classification has performed through the extension to additional countries. The answer is that the classification has held up well, and no issues have emerged that would support any significant changes.

This no doubt reflects the fact that, although the classification was devised mainly on the basis of work on advanced and emerging countries, some work had already been done at an early stage on developing as well as emerging MENA countries. In addition, the distinction between emerging and developing is less than watertight (which is why both are included in the regional groupings), and some of the emerging economies covered had clear ‘developing’ country characteristics in the 1970s and 1980s. Thus the classification has been able to deal with the range of countries at varying per capita income levels, and from different regions, that have subsequently been assessed.

For the future, the aim is first to get to a more or less complete coverage of countries/currency areas other than very small ones, defined as those with a population under 250,000 in 2017: that means around 175. The major gaps remaining are Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean (including Cuba), non-EU emerging and developing European countries, and the ex-USSR countries of Eurasia and Central Asia, from Georgia and Armenia to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Second, a concern flagged up in the original paper (Cobham, 2018) has indeed turned out to be important: the category ‘loosely structured discretion’ (LSD) is a very wide category, such that very different countries, or one country under very different arrangements in different periods (e.g. India), all end up in this one category. The problem is that it is possible to conduct monetary policy without specified or quantified objectives in quite different ways: the classification has to be discretion in each case, and there is a wide range of possible arrangements in between the more easily defined and identified end-point categories of ‘unstructured’ and ‘well-structured’ discretion. The investigation is therefore driven to focus more on the instruments available since they determine what objectives are feasible, and that is the main reason why the country details for many developing countries are much longer than those for advanced countries with precise objectives within well-structured monetary policy frameworks.

The question that then arises is whether it is possible to make a finer disaggregation of the LSD category in some other way, for example on the basis of the monetary policy instruments available that obviously affect the ability to pursue quantitative objectives if desired. The answer, as it appears so far, is that it would be possible to make a triage between countries/frameworks with only direct instruments, those that are using some indirect instruments and moving towards the adoption of others, and those which rely essentially on indirect instruments. Countries in the latter category can be regarded as ‘LSD by choice’: they have the instruments that would allow them to pursue specific quantitative targets if they so wished. On the other hand, those in the other two categories are ‘LSD by default’, insofar as they do not have the ability to successfully pursue quantified objectives even if they wished to do so. Such a triage will be attempted in the future, drawing directly on the country details already assembled, after the gaps above have been filled.

After that, it will be time to update the whole classification (as in painting the Forth Bridge, a few miles down the road from Heriot-Watt, at least before the new painting procedure of 2011, see


July 2020 Using the data: advance publications

Two papers which make use of the classification data are now available as advance publications:

David Cobham and Mengdi Song, ‘Transitions between monetary policy frameworks and their effects on economic performance’, Economic Modelling,


The widespread adoption of inflation targeting (IT) from the early 1990s led to investigations of its effect on macroeconomic performance (inflation and growth), with the emergence of a majority view that the effects were small for advanced countries but possibly larger for emerging economies. We revisit the issue, using a new de facto (rather than de jure) classification of monetary policy frameworks and employing the difference-in-differences approach with regression to the mean effects in order to deal with the problem of endogeneity. We find small effects for advanced countries but insignificant effects for emerging economies. We then question the nature of the mean to which regression occurs and suggest instead that there are strong international trend/network effects leading policymakers to make similar policy decisions (with similar macro outcomes) from within different frameworks. We also find IT has not affected macro performance in the period after the Global Financial Crisis. 


David Cobham and Mengdi Song, ‘How do countries choose their monetary policy frameworks?’, Journal of Policy Modeling,


This paper investigates the determinants of countries’ choices of monetary policy framework. A brief narrative focused on groupings of countries motivates an econometric analysis which draws on previous work on the determinants of exchange rate regimes, bringing in standard factors as well as the trade networks of potential anchor currency blocs and the financial markets depth that are emphasised in the narrative. The model turns out to be able to predict three quarters of countries’ choices, and there is no obvious systematic pattern in the errors. The results have important implications for how countries should choose their monetary policy frameworks.


February 2020 Extension: Latin American countries

The classification has now been extended to (southern, central and northern) Latin America, covering 20 countries of which six were previously included as emerging economies: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela. At a later date a number of Caribbean countries will also be covered, so this will become a full Latin American and Caribbean grouping. A few small changes have been made to the text, but not the classification, for Venezuela.

July 2019 Extension: the Middle East and North Africa

The classification has now been extended to the MENA region, defined here to cover Iran, Turkey and 17 Arab countries. The list includes four that were previously included as emerging economies: Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Turkey. One small classification change has been made for Jordan (1996-2000, identified previously as full exchange rate targeting but now as loose exchange rate targeting), there is a corresponding change to the country details text for Jordan, and there is a small change to the country details text for Turkey, 1989-2002. These changes have been applied under the emerging economies as well.