Recent Trends in Global Balance of Payments and IIP Data

International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
Published Date:
February 2017
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4. A growing number of economies submit external sector statistics (ESS) to the IMF for re-dissemination. Annual balance of payments and IIP statistics for the period 2008–15 are published in the 2016 Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook (BOPSY 2016). For the BOPSY 2016, 192 economies submitted balance of payments data and 152 also submitted IIP data (of which 106 reported quarterly IIP, compared to 103 in 2015). Also, 136 countries reported data for publication following the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6). Using standardized conversion formulas, the IMF Statistics Department (STA) converts, for the time being, data for countries that continue reporting data to the IMF on the basis of the previous version of the manual (i.e., the Balance of Payments Manual, fifth edition (BPM5)).

5. According to data published in BOPSY 2016, the global current account balance2 (reflecting the difference between current account receipts and payments) was consistently positive in 2009–15 (see BOPSY 2016, Table A-1). The balance though significantly decreased by 42 percent to $242.2 billion in 2015, compared to $415.8 billion in 2014. In 2015 (as in every year since 2009), the overall current account balance is mostly driven by the positive balance on goods trade (excess of exports over imports). While the balance on services trade was also positive in 2015, the balances on primary and secondary incomes were negative. The global current account balance represents 0.3 percent of the total gross current account (credits plus debits) transactions in 2015 compared to 0.7 in 2014 (see figure 1).

Figure 1.Global Balances on Current Account

(In billions of U.S. dollars)

6. The global financial account balance3 decreased by 32 percent in 2015 to a positive $303.1 billion balance, from a positive $446.6 billion balance in 2014 (see BOPSY 2016, Table A-1). This overall positive balance indicates that at the global level the net acquisition of financial assets is overestimated and/or the net incurrence of liabilities is understated (see figure 2). In 2015, the balances on portfolio investment, financial derivatives, and other investment were positive, while the balances on direct investment and reserve assets were negative.

Figure 2.Global Assets and Liabilities

(In billions of U.S. dollars)

7. World IIP assets decreased by 4.0 percent from $143.1 trillion at end–2014 to $137.4 trillion at end–2015, and IIP liabilities by 4.6 percent from $145.7 to $138.9 trillion respectively (see BOPSY 2016, Table E-2), with a net (negative) balance (liabilities higher than assets) in both years (see BOPSY 2016, Table E-1). The balances of IIP assets and liabilities for all economies and IOs combined should be a net positive figure at the world level, corresponding to the value of holdings of gold bullion included in monetary gold, i.e. an asset with no corresponding liability.4 At the global level though, the overall negative balance indicates incomplete coverage, asymmetries in the time of recording, and/or asymmetric valuations.

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