The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
When new international statistical standards were published in 1993, one of the major changes to the recommended presentation of the system of national accounts and the balance of payments was the adoption of accruals reporting for income and expenditure. However, as countries have begun to implement these standards, questions have arisen about their exact interpretation in respect of interest flows associated with tradable debt, where the cash flow is fixed at the time of issue but where the price of the instrument fluctuates with market conditions. A clear consensus has yet to emerge. The paper explores the issues involved in using the alternative approaches, the so-called "debtor" and "creditor" approaches. The debtor approach uses the rate implicit at the time of issue, and the creditor approach, the current market rate. The paper concludes that the creditor approach is the only one consistent with accrual principles and market valuation for the debt outstanding. It reviews implications for national and sectoral saving from this approach.