The balance of payments statistics are a comprehensive and systematic representation of the economic transactions a national economy conducts with the rest of the world over a specific period of time. It is not therefore a balance sheet in the sense of a point-in-time statement of assets and liabilities, but rather a flow account. The balance of payments captures not only transactions associated with cross-border payments but also operations that do not lead to a direct payment, if indeed any.
The balance of payments is broken down into the following sub-accounts:
- Current account: goods, services, primary and secondary income. These sub-accounts encompass figures in original form as well as in seasonally adjusted and calendar adjusted form. Seasonal and calendar adjustment is carried out using the X-13 method in version 2.2.2 of JDemetra+.
- Capital account: non-produced non-financial assets, capital transfers.
- Financial account: direct investment, portfolio investment, financial derivatives and employee stock options, other investment, reserve assets.
- Net errors and omissions for the settlement of balances: arises from transactions not or incorrectly being recorded or allocated to a period.
The German balance of payments statistics observe the concepts and methodological requirements set out in the sixth edition of the IMF’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6).
For the EU Member States and euro area countries, the resulting statistical data submission requirements are laid down in a European Commission Regulation. Furthermore, a Guideline of the European Central Bank (ECB) stipulates the reporting requirements for Eurosystem national central banks. More detailed information on the data sources and compilation methods used by individual euro area countries and EU Member States can be obtained from the “European Union Balance of Payments and International Investment Position statistical sources and methods – B.o.p. and i.i.p. book”.
The balance of payments statistics form one of the data categories for the external sector within the IMF data standard, Special Data Dissemination Standard Plus (SDDS Plus), to which Germany adheres. Metadata are available on the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB). They describe the methodological, conceptual and institutional framework of Germany’s balance of payments.
The ratio of the current account balance to gross domestic product on an average of the last three years is a key indicator in the EU’s MIP.