Recent Trends in Global Balance of Payments and IIP Data

International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
Published Date:
February 2018
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4. A growing number of economies submit external sector statistics (ESS) to the IMF. Annual balance of payments and IIP statistics for the period 2010–16 are published in the 2017 Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook (BOPSY 2017). For the BOPSY 2017, 192 economies2 submitted balance of payments data and 164 also submitted IIP data (of which 111 reported quarterly IIP, compared to 106 in 2016). The balance of payments data reported by 162 of these countries followed the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6), as compared to 136 in 2016. Data for countries that reported following previous to the BPM6 versions were converted by the IMF Statistics Department (STA) using standardized conversion formulas.

5. According to data published in BOPSY 2017, the global current account balance3 (reflecting the difference between current account receipts and payments) was consistently positive in 2010–16 (see BOPSY 2017, Table A-1). The balance slightly increased by 5 percent to $294.5 billion in 2016, compared to $280.1 billion in 2015. In 2016 (as in every year since 2010), the overall current account balance is mostly driven by the positive balance on trade in goods and services (excess of exports over imports), while the balances on primary and secondary incomes were negative. The global current account balance represents 0.4 percent of the total gross current account (credits plus debits) transactions in 2016 and remained at the same level as in 2015 (see Figure 1).

Figure 1.Global Balances on Current Account

(In billions of U.S. dollars)

6. The global financial account balance4 decreased by 50 percent in 2016 to a positive $85.1 billion balance, from a positive $171.9 billion balance in 2015 (see BOPSY 2017, 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 2016, 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 increased by 1.8 percent from $138.3 trillion at end–2015 to $140.8 trillion at end–2016, and IIP liabilities by 1.2 percent from $139.9 to $141.5 trillion respectively (see BOPSY 2017, Table E-2), with a net (negative) balance (liabilities higher than assets) that decreased by 51.3 percent from $-1,605 to $-782 trillion respectively (see BOPSY 2017, 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.5 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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