Work Undertaken by the Committee in 2013
- International Monetary Fund. Statistics Dept.
- Published Date:
- June 2014
A. Implementation of the BPM6
9. During 2013, STA, in consultation with the Committee, continued work on implementing the methodology of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, sixth edition (BPM6). As of end-December 2013, 36 countries had implemented the BPM6 framework and reported their own BPM6-basis estimates for publication in the IMF’s International Financial Statistics and the online Balance of Payments Statistics Database. STA converts the data for countries that continue to report data to the IMF on a BPM5 basis to a BPM6 basis using standardized conversion formulas. In light of user demands for BPM6-basis data for years prior to 2005, STA consulted the Committee on allowing the public to access its pre-2005 BPM6-basis estimates. The Committee noted that the timing of such access should take account of countries’ plans for releasing their own BPM6-basis estimates. A large number of countries (including all European Union (EU) members) will release their own official BPM6-basis estimates later in 2014. If STA provides the public with access to the pre-2005 BPM6-basis estimates, STA would maintain and update the pre-2005 data base with official country estimates as these become available, as STA now does with the estimates for 2005 forward.
10. Committee members exchanged information on their experiences in implementing BPM6 and discussed related issues, including communication strategies. Japan updated the Committee on the status of its work in implementing BPM6—its schedule calls for publishing data on a BPM6 basis for the first time starting in March 2014 with the release of January 2014 data. The European Central Bank (ECB) and Eurostat reported on the coordinated implementation of BPM6 in the EU. The first transmission of data by EU member states according to BPM6 is expected in June 2014, covering data for the first quarter of 2014 and all quarters of 2013. The United States reported on the use of credit card data in improving travel statistics. South Africa informed the Committee of steps taken in implementing BPM6 at the level of the source data. Plans for the BPM6 migration under the Enhanced Data Dissemination Initiative (EDDI) were also discussed.4 STA presentations on best practices for communicating the BPM6 migration, and on BPM6 sign conventions, were well received by the Committee.
B. Updating of Statistical Guides and Manuals
11. A complete draft of the BPM6 Compilation Guide (CG) was prepared and posted on the IMF website in July 2013.5 The BPM6 CG provides compilation advice for the whole of the balance of payments as well as the IIP. It draws on national experience as well as the experience of IMF staff in the field of balance of payments compilation. The BPM6 CG was well received by the Committee, and is being used by STA staff and experts in the conduct of technical assistance and training.
12. A pre-publication draft of the updated External Debt Statistics (EDS) Guide (subject to editing) was prepared and posted on the IMF website in September 2013.6 The EDS Guide was first published in 2003 and was updated to come into line with BPM6 and the 2008 System of National Accounts (2008 SNA). The updated version of the EDS Guide was presented to STA’s main advisory group on external debt statistics—the Task Force on Finance Statistics (TFFS)—and endorsed at its March 2013 meeting.
C. Global Interconnectedness
13. The Committee confirmed its continued support for interconnectedness-related initiatives, with a focus on implementing the recommendations of the G-20/IMFC Data Gaps Initiative (DGI). Interconnectedness-related initiatives touch upon the following areas, among others: the Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS); the Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS); IIP data; Cross-Border Exposures of Nonbank Financial Institutions; Global Flow of Funds; and Direction of Trade Statistics (DOTS).
14. The results of the 2012 CPIS were published on schedule in November 2013 (see http://cpis.imf.org). These data, reported by 78 economies (the same economies that participated in the end–2011 CPIS data collection), were the twelfth annual set of CPIS data since the Committee launched the annual survey in 2001. Cross-border holdings of securities increased by 10.7 percent in 2012, to US$43.6 trillion from $39.3 trillion in 2011. In addition to the reporting-economy tables, the CPIS website also includes a set of global tables that include derived liabilities data.
15. STA continued its work to implement enhancements to data from the CPIS. In particular, STA continued to make progress in increasing the frequency, timeliness, and scope of data on portfolio investment assets, and continued its efforts to increase country participation in the CPIS. The IMF published, in August 2013, updated user guidelines for the CPIS report forms to indicate semi-annual frequency and enhanced scope, i.e., introduction of new encouraged data items (to obtain separate data on short or negative positions, and on the institutional sector of foreign debtor). In regard to the latter, a new table will collect data on an encouraged basis from all economies, presenting their holdings of securities by domestic sector cross-classified by sector of issuer for each of the 25 economies identified by the IMF Executive Board (in 2010) with systemically important financial sectors. The IMF continued outreach efforts to alert CPIS reporting economies to the changes in frequency,7 timeliness, and scope of the CPIS data that took effect with the reporting to STA of end–June 2013 data in January 2014; and to increase CPIS participation through country technical assistance missions and country/regional training courses.
16. Participation in the CDIS continues to grow; 88 economies participated in the preliminary end-2012 survey round (86 economies participated in the preliminary end-2011 survey round). The CDIS collects data on inward and outward direct investment positions by immediate counterpart country, broken down between equity and debt, as of end–December of the reference year. In addition to the reporting-economy tables, the CDIS website (http://cdis.imf.org) also includes a set of global and regional tables, as well as mirror data that allows for bilateral data comparisons.
17. STA continued to focus on increasing the number of reporters of quarterly IIP statistics. The number of economies reporting quarterly IIP statistics increased to 82 as of end-December 2013, including three-quarters of the economies that subscribe to the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS).8 Fourteen G-20 economies (including the Euro Area) currently report quarterly IIP data; and four of the six G-20 economies not currently reporting quarterly IIP data have indicated a timeframe for implementing quarterly dissemination during 2014.
18. In the context of DGI Recommendation #14, work advanced on improving data on cross-border exposures of nonbank financial institutions. Standardized templates summarizing the data available to international organizations (BIS, ECB, IMF and OECD) on international exposures of large nonbank financial institutions were completed and posted on the Principal Global Indicators (PGI) website.9
19. STA also launched an initiative to construct a global flow of funds matrix, initially aimed at mapping domestic and external financial positions, and is improving the IT platform for DOTS. The global flow of funds matrix is at a developmental stage. It currently draws upon existing data sources in different statistical domains, to bring together data on domestic and international financial positions that would be useful in highlighting and analyzing risk exposures, cross-border linkages, and potential spillovers. The migration of the DOTS database to a new IT platform was initiated and, once completed, will improve data validation and visualization.
D. Reserves-Related Initiatives
20. In 2013, following a request by some IMF Executive Board members, STA also embarked on a reserves-related initiative to explore the feasibility of collecting data on currency intervention activities for analytical and IMF surveillance purposes. A Survey of Foreign Exchange Market Intervention was designed by STA with input from other IMF Departments and conducted in August/September 2013. The results of the Survey presented to the Committee reflected the views of members of the Reserve Assets Technical Expert Group (RESTEG)10 on the definition of, and other key questions pertaining to, foreign exchange market intervention.
21. The results of the survey confirm that many central banks do not publish foreign exchange intervention data and there is no standard definition of what constitutes intervention. As a consequence, systematic and up-to-date cross-country information on modalities and levels of intervention does not exist.
22. Regarding a standard definition, RESTEG members found areas where there was widespread (though not necessarily universal) agreement, i.e., that the definition should cover actions taken with the intent of influencing the exchange rate of the domestic currency; it should include both direct and indirect market activities; it should include sterilized and nonsterilized interventions; and the definition should not include the activities of public corporations. Given the range of policy tools that has the potential for impacting the exchange rate, there was no consensus on which nontraditional forms of intervention to include in the definition.
23. In regard to dissemination practices, the survey results indicate that, for economies that disseminate, a reporting lag of one month or less is widespread (with a number of economies releasing data much more quickly). In some cases, the type of intervention activity determines the reporting lag. For economies that do not disseminate data, the prime concern is that the data could be used for speculative purposes, and this could reduce the effectiveness of the intervention activity. Several members recommended that authorities disseminate information on the size, date and form of their intervention activities at least on a monthly basis. Others stated that decisions on what, when, and/or whether to disseminate should be the choice of national authorities based on their own national definitions and circumstances.
24. In discussing the RESTEG survey results, the Committee underlined the importance of the intent to influence the foreign currency value of the domestic currency as a key element of any statistical definition.
25. Regarding the direction of the initiative, the Committee indicated the need to seek high-level policy support to continue working with RESTEG.
26. In another reserves-related initiative, as part of its regular monitoring of the data dissemination standards, STA reviewed data on reserves in SDR basket currencies and in non-SDR basket currencies, as reported by SDDS subscribers on STA’s Reserves Data Template. The purposes of this review were to assure that SDDS subscribers report the data split at least once a year, and that the data that are disseminated are correct.
27. Also, the Committee was apprised of the status of STA’s work to enhance the usefulness of data from confidential IMF surveys of reserve assets (Currency Composition of Foreign Exchange Reserves (COFER), Survey of Securities Held as Foreign Exchange Reserves (SEFER), and Instrument Composition of Transactions in Foreign Exchange Reserves (INFER)). STA indicated that it was proceeding very cautiously in regard to these surveys, considering the need to maintain strict confidentiality of data.
E. Statistical Data and Metadata Exchange (SDMX) Data Structure Definition and Governance
28. The IMF has closely worked with the ECB and Eurostat, in collaboration with the OECD and the BIS, in finalizing a Data Structure Definition (DSD) that can be used by all economies to report BPM6-basis data to international agencies in the same SDMX format. The Committee is a key part of the governance structure of the SDMX as it is the domain group that approves the DSD for BPM6-basis data. An official DSD version (BOP-DSD V1.0) was formally approved by the Committee at the end of the review period that concluded on August 30, 2013.
29. Committee members discussed the length of a revision cycle, and procedures for effecting changes to the BOP-DSD. The issues raised included the resource costs of frequently updating IT systems, and the tradeoffs between a flexible/adaptable DSD and the usefulness of a stable DSD for developing a consistent long-term time series.
F. Developments in Selected Other External Accounts Areas
30. STA has continued its work on enhancing cross sector consistency in macroeconomic statistics. Through a paper on “Improving Cross-Sector Data Consistency”, STA informed the IMF Executive Board in May 2013 of how this work supports data quality, key findings, and the way forward. A key next step involves the compilation of an inventory of the few outstanding methodological differences among major macroeconomic statistics manuals (including BPM6, SNA 2008, Government Finance Statistics Manual, Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual, and the Handbook on Securities Statistics (HSS)).
G. Discussion of Other Methodological Issues
31. The October 2013 Committee meeting included discussions of a number of methodological issues. As requested by the Committee at its January 2013 meeting, the IMF presented statistical guidance on the valuation of “other equity in the IMF” by its member countries.11 The presentation noted that a rough approximation could be derived in many cases by applying a member country’s percentage share of overall quota to the value of the total other equity of the IMF, but cautioned that its application in the case of a few countries may pose difficulties. Further, the inclusion of data in macroeconomic statistics on other equity in the IMF would implicitly suggest expanding the coverage to member country equity in other international organizations, which could be a challenge for national compilers. Given that the Committee unanimously supported the methodological treatment of calculating other equity in the IMF, and at the same time acknowledged that allocating the aggregate estimates to individual countries was not straightforward, STA will consult the Advisory Expert Group on National Accounts and weigh the benefits and costs of implementation.
32. On the previously-raised issue of a difference between the 2008 SNA and BPM6 in recording the cost of transporting goods from the supplier to the purchaser,12 the Advisory Expert Group/Intersecretariat Working Group on National Accounts agreed (at its May 2013 meeting) with the IMF recommendation to clarify that the 2008 SNA is consistent with BPM6 in requiring the valuation of international trade in goods on a free on board basis. However, the AEG noted that the approach would be unsatisfactory in the long run. It recommended considering the eventual adoption of the change-in-ownership principle and of basic price valuation (without the rerouting of transactions now required under the free-onboard valuation basis).
33. The Committee also discussed methodological papers that examined the effects of including Special Purpose Enterprises in the Dutch Balance of Payments and Foreign Direct Investment statistics, and on challenges with measuring global production (as currently discussed by the UNECE Task Force on Global Production). These papers were presented by The Netherlands and Canada, respectively.
H. Work of Other International Organizations
34. The other international organizations participating in the Committee meeting reported on their work. The BIS presented information on its work to enhance the international banking statistics (IBS) database. The two stages of enhancements (as outlined in the Committee’s 2012 Annual Report) were designed to make significant and long-lasting improvements to the IBS, and complement other international data initiatives, such as the DGI. The BIS also reported the key results of its 2013 Triennial Central Bank Survey.
35. The Task Force on Statistics of International Trade in Services (TFSITS), which is chaired by the OECD, is working on a Manual on Statistics of International Trade in Services Compilation Guide (MSITS 2010 CG) that would complement the services chapters of the BPM6 CG. A complete version is expected to be available in 2014.
36. The BIS and the ECB reported on progress in implementing Recommendation # 7 of the DGI, which covers work on the HSS, and on BIS’ collection and compilation of data on debt securities. Fifty-six countries are included in the BIS debt securities statistics, which are classified according to the residence and sector of the issuer, as well as maturity of the debt security.
37. The full set of papers presented at the meeting of the Committee in Muscat, Oman is available at http://www.imf.org/external/bopage/bopindex.htm.