The financial accounts summarise financial flows in the economy and thereby contribute to the picture provided by the national accounts, which focus on the real economy. Among other things, they show whether, on balance, financial resources were taken up or made available and in what form (eg loans or shares). The results are presented by means of balance sheets for each individual institutional sector of the economy and are broken down by financial instrument. A distinction is also made between data on financial transactions carried out during a given reporting period (acquisition of financial assets and external financing) and the corresponding outstanding amounts at the end of that period (financial assets and liabilities).
In the mid-1950s, the Bundesbank became one of the first central banks in the world to compile and publish financial accounts. The data are used, among other things, to analyse financial flows in an economy from a monetary policy perspective, shedding light on the investment and financing activity of enterprises and households, as well as the financial intermediaries that are involved in the economy’s financial flows. In turn, these analyses can provide information on the monetary policy transmission process, as they focus, for example, on examining shifts in financing structures, such as the relationship between lending by domestic banks and other sources of financing (eg capital markets and foreign lenders).
At the global level, hardly any surveys are conducted specifically in the context of the financial accounts. As a result, the financial accounts are always compiled on the basis of existing statistics that are collected primarily for other purposes. The financial accounts – like the national accounts – therefore take the form of secondary statistics that combine data from a range of financial areas. Their methodological basis is the latest version of the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010), which was introduced in September 2014. Data based on the previous version (ESA 95) are still available, but are no longer updated. In order to ensure that the picture of financial flows in the German economy is consistent, the Bundesbank and Federal Statistical Office collaborate closely on the preparation of the financial accounts and national accounts respectively.
The Bundesbank compiles the financial accounts on a quarterly basis. The results are published regularly in press releases, its Monthly Report and in Special Statistical Publication 4 on the financial accounts for Germany, which also contains detailed methodological notes. They can also be found in the time series database on the Bundesbank’s website. Furthermore, they are passed on to the ECB, which uses these figures and the contributions of the other euro-area countries to create and publish the financial accounts for the euro area. The EU data are compiled and published by Eurostat.