The national accounts have the task of providing, in quantitative terms, an overall picture of economic activity in Germany that is as clear and as comprehensive as possible. They include all economic agents (individuals, institutions) as well as their economic activities and related processes that are important for describing the business cycle.
As part of the national accounts, calculations of domestic product provide data needed for ongoing economic observations and analysis, most notably quarterly and annual data on the creation, use and distribution of gross domestic product (GDP) at current prices or adjusted for inflation (or price change). The national accounts also include figures for the factors of production (employment rate, wealth accounts).
By contrast, the financial accounts (FA), which are an integral part of the national accounts, focus on the financial activities that arise as part of the production of goods and services. Besides the transactions, the economy’s financial assets and liabilities are also calculated.
The methodological basis of the national accounts and the FA is currently the European System of Accounts (ESA 1995). This framework contains extensive provisions and definitions on the statistical recording of the economic process and applies to all countries of the European Union (EU). In this way, the comparability of the results between the countries is ensured. In September 2014, a revised version of the methodological basis will enter into force in the form of ESA 2010. The reason for the update is primarily the intention to take into account current developments that have arisen since ESA 1995 entered into force so as to continue to have comparable, current and reliable information on the structure of the economy and the development of each and every member state’s economic situation. While the basic structure of ESA 1995 is maintained, ESA 2010 contains – in addition to conceptual changes – numerous clarifications, eg in the definition of sectors, flows of goods and financial instruments.