Recent Trends in Global Balance of Payments and IIP Data

International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
Published Date:
February 2019
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4. A considerable number of economies submit ESS to the IMF. Annual balance of payments and IIP statistics for the period 2011–17 are published in the 2018 Balance of Payments Statistics Yearbook (BOPSY2018). For the BOPSY2018, 194 economies2 submitted balance of payments data and 165 also submitted IIP data (of which 115 reported quarterly IIP, compared to 111 in 2017). The balance of payments data reported by 169 of these countries followed the sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6),3 as compared to 162 in 2017. Data for countries that reported following the BPM5 version were converted by the IMF Statistics Department (STA) using standardized conversion formulas.

5. According to data published in BOPSY2078, the global current account balance (reflecting the difference between current account receipts and payments) was consistently positive in 2011–174 (see BOPSY2018, Table A-1). The balance increased by 43 percent to $444.9 billion in 2017, compared to $311.6 billion in 2016, or from 0.4 to 0.6 percent of global GDP. The changes coincided with the significant growth in current account balances of advanced economies. In 2017 (as in every year since 2011), the overall current account balance mostly results from 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 0.7 percent of the total gross current account (credits plus debits) transactions in 2017 compared to 0.5 percent in 2016 (see Figures 1 and 3).

Figure 1.Global Balances on Current Account

(In Billions of US Dollars)

Figure 2.Global Financial Assets and Liabilities

(In Billions of US Dollars)

Figure 3.Global Balance; on Current Account

(Percentage of Global GDP)

6. The global financial account balance5 increased more than five-fold in 2017 to a positive $239.9 billion from a positive $45.8 billion in 2016, or to 0.3 from 0.1 in percentage of global GDP (see BOPSY2018, Table A-1). This overall positive balance indicates more financial outflows than inflows at the global level, that is the net acquisition of financial assets is overestimated and/or the net incurrence of liabilities is understated (see Figures 2 and 4). One of the causes of financial account imbalance is the undercoverage of offshore centers. In 2017, the balances on direct and portfolio investment were negative, while the balances on financial derivatives, other investment, and reserve assets were positive.

Figure 4.Global Financial Assets and Liabilities

(Percentage of Global GDP)

7. World IIP assets increased by 13 percent from $142.0 trillion at end-2016 to $160.2 trillion at end-2017, and IIP liabilities by 12 percent from $143.0 to $160.4 trillion, respectively (see BOPSY2018, Table E-2), with a net (negative) balance (liabilities higher than assets) that decreased by 74 percent from $-1,010.3 to $-259.8 trillion (from -1.3 to -0.3 in percentage of global GDP), respectively (see BOPSY2018, Table E-1). The balances of IIP assets and liabilities for all economies and International Organizations 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).6 At the global level though, the overall negative balance indicates incomplete coverage (e.g., undercoverage of offshore centers), asymmetries in the time of recording, and/or asymmetric valuations.

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