Journal Issue

The Integration of Sector Finance and National Income Accounts

International Monetary Fund. Research Dept.
Published Date:
January 1960
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MANY OF THE DIFFICULTIES encountered in integrating statistics of changes in the financial assets and liabilities of the sectors of an economy (hereinafter called financing statistics) with traditional national income statistics may be clarified by the application of balance of payments methodology.1 Thus, the flow-of-funds accounts, which have been developed in the United States to combine both types of statistics, have been described as a set of interlocking balance of payments statements.2 Traditional national income accounts cover transactions in goods and services and transfers within and between certain functionally defined sectors of an economy (mainly households, enterprises, and government) and between the economy as a whole and the rest of the world, presented in a form that yields aggregates for production, income, consumption, and real capital formation for the economy as a whole. Financing statistics cover economic transactions that represent changes in financial assets and liabilities of the sectors of an economy, and these changes are equivalent, mutatis mutandis, to capital transactions as recorded in the balance of payments. Traditional national income and financing statistics combined thus cover essentially the same types of transaction (goods and services, transfers, and capital transactions) that enter the balance of payments. Furthermore, the rest of the world account included in both traditional national income and financing statistics is equivalent to the balance of payments with sign reversed: it covers the transactions of the rest of the world with the domestic economy, whereas the balance of payments covers the transactions of the domestic economy with the rest of the world. For all these reasons it is useful to analyze the integrated national accounts in terms of balance of payments concepts.

Brief Description of Balance of Payments Methodology

For the compilation of balance of payments statements, the International Monetary Fund defines the balance of payments as covering the economic transactions between the residents of a country and foreigners, i.e., residents of the rest of the world.3 Economic transactions occur in respect of (1) goods and services and (2) financial claims. Transactions are divided into one-way transactions and two-way transactions; accordingly, in all, five basic types of transaction are distinguished:

One-way transactions

  • 1. A transfer of goods and services without a quid pro quo

  • 2. A transfer of claims without a quid pro quo

Two-way transactions

  • 3. An exchange of goods and services against goods and services

  • 4. An exchange of goods and services against claims (e.g., money)

  • 5. An exchange of claims against claims

Transactions in goods and services are entered in a goods and services account, and transactions in claims are entered in a capital account.4 Each transaction of types 3–5 gives rise directly to two offsetting entries, either one in each of the accounts or both in the same account. In transactions of types 1 and 2, the entries for the flow of goods and services (type 1) and claims (type 2) are offset by entries in a “donations” account. Thus, there are three major categories in the balance of payments: goods and services, donations (corresponding to transfer payments in the national accounts), and capital transactions.

Definition of goods and services

The term “goods and services” in the balance of payments is used in a wider sense than is customary in national income work. It covers not only the output of enterprise at home and abroad but also the services of factors of production and the so-called existing assets. As far as possible, a distinction is made in the balance of payments between factor services and goods and nonfactor services; but, except for the fact that investment income is presented as a separate category,5 this distinction is not relevant to balance of payments analysis. It is provided only for purposes of reconciliation with national income accounts. Although in the national accounts the distinction between factor services and goods and nonfactor services is usually made in the rest of the world account, goods and services in that account, as in the balance of payments, ordinarily include the so-called existing assets.

Definition of foreign assets and liabilities

The data on assets and liabilities included in the balance of payments refer to both creditor and equity capital. While the definition of creditor capital raises no problems, the concept of equity capital gives rise to certain borderline cases, which are decided on the basis of the resident concept. Sometimes a single economic or legal unit may extend its economic activity and own real assets in more than one country. The most common case is that of direct investment companies. Whether or not the parts of such a company are organized as separate legal entities, treatment of the parts in the balance of payments is the same. If the local activity of such a company in a given country is considered an integral part of the economy of the country, the local part of that company is regarded as a resident. If it is organized as a separate corporation, it is referred to as a subsidiary; otherwise, it is called a branch.

Real assets (say, merchandise stocks, ships, and airplanes) located in a country are not considered foreign investment if they are owned directly by nonresidents; but if they are owned indirectly by nonresidents through a branch or subsidiary, they are considered to be foreign investment. Thus, in these borderline cases, the amount of net foreign investment will vary, by the value of the real assets involved, according to whether direct ownership of the real assets is attributed to a resident (say, a branch or subsidiary) or to a nonresident (a foreigner). On the other hand, net foreign investment is independent of the distribution of financial assets and liabilities between the parent company and a branch or subsidiary, although the gross amounts of international assets and liabilities, and the classification by type of change in them, will vary with this distribution.

Therefore, the location of physical assets outside the country of the owner does not, in itself, make them foreign investments. When the border line between residents and foreigners is moved, an investment in real assets may be converted into financial investment, or vice versa. In the balance of payments, real investments are not treated separately from other transactions in goods and services; hence, in borderline cases, the definition of resident will determine whether a given transaction is to be entered in the goods and services account or in the capital account.

In a system of sector accounts, the definition of foreign assets used in balance of payments statements applies, mutatis mutandis, to the definition of intersector claims. For instance, if government enterprises are treated as a separate sector, or are allocated to a sector that also includes private enterprises, real investment by government enterprises paid for by the government will have to be matched by an inflow of equity capital from the government sector. Similarly, investments by individuals in owner-occupied dwellings will have to be matched by flows of equity capital from households to enterprises, if the consumption activities of the owners are allocated to a household sector and the ownership of their dwelling is treated as an enterprise activity recorded in an enterprise sector. The splitting of the same economic units in these and other cases leads to imputation of financial flows between sectors.

Application of Balance of Payments Methodology to Integrated National Accounts

Although it is immediately apparent how transfers and transactions in financial assets and liabilities between sectors relate to balance of payments concepts, it is far from obvious how the transactions in goods and services recorded in the sector accounts of the national accounts can be interpreted in these terms. The detailed sector accounts of the national accounts include data on economic transactions between sectors which, when consolidated for all the domestic sectors, will yield the balance of payments, but they include as well a number of intra-sector transactions used in the measurement of the national accounts aggregates. The following analysis of the sector accounts of the national accounts is intended to bring out clearly both the differences and the similarities between the national accounts and the balance of payments categories.

Transactions in goods and services

To demonstrate the relationships of the various types of transaction in goods and services, as defined for balance of payments purposes, to a statement of intersector transactions, to a balance of payments statement for the economy as a whole, and to the national accounts aggregates, Table 1 analyzes sector transactions in goods and services by two sets of criteria: whether they refer to intrasector transactions, transactions between domestic sectors, or transactions between a domestic sector and the rest of the world; and whether they refer to production, consumption, or investment. A distinction is also made between goods and nonfactor services, on the one hand, and factor services,6 on the other—a distinction that is made in national income work but is not important for balance of payments purposes. All transactions are entered at market prices, i.e., at factor cost plus indirect taxes minus subsidies.

Table 1.A Sector’s Transactions in Goods and Services
A.Sales of goods and nonfactor services
1.To rest of worldX
2.To other domestic sectorsX
3.To own sector
a.For current productionXX
b.For consumptionXX
c.For investment
Increase in inventoriesXX
New investment in fixed capitalXX
B.Purchases of goods and nonfactor services
1.From rest of world
a.For productionX
b.For consumption1X
c.For investment2X
2.From other domestic sectors
a.For productionX
b.For consumption1X
c.For investment2X
C.Purchases of factor services
1.From rest of worldX
2.From other domestic sectorsX
3.From own sectorX
D.Sales of factor services
1.To rest of worldX
2.To other domestic sectorsX
3.To own sectorX
E.Net transactions in goods and services (net credit or debit of A through D)Sector’s share in net national product at market priceSector’s net consumptionSector’s net investment

Net of sales of secondhand consumer goods.

Net of sales of existing assets.

Net of sales of secondhand consumer goods.

Net of sales of existing assets.

The coverage of the column for production as set out in Table 1 differs in several respects from the usual production accounts in the national accounts. These production accounts are normally confined to the recording of the contribution of each sector or industry to domestic product. In Table 1, transactions associated with production include, in addition to the transactions usually included in production accounts, the receipts of each sector for factor services rendered to other sectors. The net balance on a production account for each sector so defined may be interpreted as a measure of the sector’s contribution to net national product at market prices.

Another departure from the traditional production accounts is that indirect taxes and subsidies are not recorded. The reason is that Table 1 is confined to transactions in goods and services and that taxes and subsidies represent transfer payments. To derive the sector’s share in national income, it is necessary to deduct indirect taxes paid by the sector from the balance of the transactions recorded in the production column of Table 1, and to add subsidies received by it. For purposes of exposition, however, it appears advantageous to enter all transactions in goods and services initially at market prices. This procedure helps to demonstrate in the simplest possible manner the fundamental relationships between the balance of payments and national accounts categories.

In Table 1, the distinction between factor services and goods and nonfactor services has been drawn only to demonstrate the relationships between balance of payments and national accounts concepts. The rationale of this distinction is questioned in the Appendix, with particular reference to the treatment of interest in the national accounts. Product in the national accounts is conceived as referring to goods and nonfactor services only, and factor services that enter consumption directly without being combined with other factor services in a production process, such as the services of household or civil servants, are, therefore, treated as nonfactor services when consumed. Such services are entered in a nominal production account as input of factor services and output of nonfactor services. Otherwise, they could not be included in domestic product, which is conceived as output of goods and nonfactor services. Table 1 has been drawn up on the basis of these familiar concepts; for this reason, consumption is shown as comprising only goods and nonfactor services. In other words, it has been assumed that factor services that enter consumption without any processing are routed through a traditional production account (items A through C of Table 1, column for production) as input of factor services (item C) and output of nonfactor services (item A) in the statement for the sector to which the production is attributed. In addition, such services will enter as sales of factor services (item D) in the statement for the sector rendering the services, and as consumption (item B) in the statement for the sector consuming them. The entries in items A and C cover purely fictitious transactions. While such imputations are necessary to accumulate domestic product7 (rather than national product), they are of no help in interpreting sector accounts.

The sum of the entries for consumption represents consumption of each sector, net of sales of existing consumption goods, which, for all sectors combined, add to national consumption. For each sector, the sum of the debit entries for investment represents the sector’s share in gross domestic capital formation, net of sales of existing investment goods, and the balance of debits and credits on investment account, which is also net of depreciation, represents its share in net domestic capital formation. Both consumption and domestic capital formation are measured at market prices.

Table 1 does not record separately transactions in the so-called existing assets, which are sometimes treated as a separate category in national income work. Existing assets are (1) secondhand goods, i.e., goods that have previously come out of a production process (at home or abroad) as final sales for consumption or investment, and (2) real assets, such as land, that did not originate in production. Purchases recorded in item B of Table 1 include transactions in existing assets. Sales of existing assets previously charged to consumption or investment are netted against current purchases in these categories. In this form of accounting, domestic capital formation will include purchases of secondhand investment goods imported (or reverting from consumption) and will be measured net of secondhand investment goods exported (or sold for consumption or reverting to the production process). Purchases and sales of real estate will be included in the capital formation of individual sectors but will ordinarily cancel out for the economy as a whole.

It follows from Table 1 that all intrasector transactions in goods and services enter the accounts for the sector concerned twice—once as a credit and once as a debit. Those transactions which are not offsetting within the goods and services account are offset by entries for transfers or financial transactions. Transactions not involving goods and services give rise to both credit and debit entries in the transfer account and the financial transactions account. The three accounts for each sector taken together thus represent a double-entry system of essentially the same character as a balance of payments.

Consolidation and Aggregation of Sector Accounts

Accounting statements for the domestic sectors of an economy, covering transactions in goods and services, as set out in Table 1, as well as transfers and financial transactions, i.e., transactions representing changes in financial assets and liabilities, may be presented under these three major headings. If so classified, the statements for the individual sectors may be consolidated into a balance of payments for the economy as a whole in terms of the conventional categories by eliminating (with a few exceptions) transactions that are purely domestic. While the balance of payments for the economy as a whole is of great value, statements for individual sectors based on this model are not very useful. Conceptually, it is possible, of course, to relate changes in a sector’s financial assets and liabilities to its transactions in goods and services and transfers, but the behavior of the sector cannot usefully be explained in these terms. Neither can statements in balance of payments form be readily related to the activity of the economy as a whole.8

It is much more useful to present the sector accounts under the categories of the national accounts which emphasize income and expenditure. For this purpose, the distinction between goods and services, on the one hand, and transfers, on the other, must be subordinated to that between current and capital account transactions.9 The current account records the formation and distribution of income and its use for consumption. The balance on current account is saving, which is matched in the capital account by the net acquisition of real assets and by the changes in the financial assets and liabilities of the sector. Accounting statements for the domestic sectors prepared in this form are not only much more useful for the interpretation of the transactions of each sector, but if suitably constructed, the entries in the sector accounts can be readily aggregated to yield the conventional national accounts totals for product, income, consumption, and capital formation. In this way, the economic activity of individual sectors can be readily related to that of the economy as a whole.

In the system of accounts outlined here, a rest of the world account is not considered part of the system proper. A rest of the world account has traditionally been included in the national accounts system, and this is necessary in order to make fully articulated a system of accounts that does not cover financial transactions. It is also useful for checking the internal consistency of the estimates, although for this purpose it need not be part of the accounting system itself. In a system of integrated national accounts that covers many sectors, any articulation must necessarily be only formal, since, in practice, it is impossible to trace the various flows sector by sector. Quite aside from this practical difficulty, a full articulation of the accounts is in itself of limited value.10 Historically, a foreign sector has been included in the national accounts to satisfy two of the basic postulates of national accounting (that income and product are equal to consumption plus investment and that saving equals investment). It seems more realistic, however, to present the integrated national accounts in a manner that recognizes that these relationships do not hold for the open economies for which the statistics are prepared; specifically, that, for the economy as a whole, expenditure on consumption and investment can exceed or fall short of its income, and saving can exceed or fall short of investment. Many of the most important problems of economic policy have to do with differences between income and expenditure for the economy as a whole, and the study of these problems is greatly facilitated if these imbalances can be clearly shown and related directly, rather than in some complex manner, to similar imbalances in the individual sectors. In presentations of the integrated national accounts that relate the transactions in individual sectors to the national aggregates, the rest of the world account does not seem to fit at all. The reasons are that the transactions of the rest of the world shown in the accounts do not lend themselves, as those of the domestic sectors, to being classified according to the categories of the national accounts, such as production, consumption, capital formation, etc., and that the categories in which the transactions of the rest of the world are shown, such as exports and imports, are not applicable to the statements for the domestic sectors.

The rest of the world account (or the balance of payments) is, of course, indispensable as an adjunct to the national accounts. It is not the rest of the world account as such that is misleading, but its treatment as an account for just another sector of the economy. The main categories of the national accounts, such as product, income, consumption, and investment, apply to the domestic sectors only; therefore, it seems essential to include in a system of integrated national accounts a statement for the national economy defined as the sum of the domestic sectors and excluding the so-called foreign sector. The accounts for the individual sectors should be constructed in such a way that the entries for the statement covering the national economy can readily be derived by adding entries in these accounts. A full integration of the accounts requires not only that each sector’s financial transactions are properly related to its transactions in other categories, but also that all these transactions are related to the transactions of the economy as a whole. This is accomplished by setting up statements on sources and uses of funds in the same form for the individual sectors and for the national economy.

It has been argued that this principle of aggregation is not necessary in sectorized national accounts, because the existing systems of national accounts already yield the relevant totals for the economy as a whole, and that it may even be harmful if it results in the construction of sector accounts in formal categories which, although useful when applied to the over-all economy, are of little value in explaining the transactions of individual sectors. However, even though accounts for the economy as a whole already exist, it seems useful to develop alternative forms of these accounts from the logic of the sector accounts themselves, not as a substitute for, but as a supplement to, the existing accounts. In setting up sectorized national accounts, of course, only those categories of transactions which reflect similar phenomena in the individual sectors and in the economy as a whole should be aggregated.

Choice of aggregates to be derived from sector accounts

Theoretically, each of the traditional national aggregates can be deconsolidated, but not all the deconsolidations are equally useful. A complete deconsolidation of domestic product would require excessive imputations because not all of domestic product arises from a productive process in which several factors of production are combined. The most conspicuous exception is the product of government employees. Domestic product attributable to a sector, or to the economy as a whole, may be defined as the balance of purchases and sales of goods and nonfactor services related to production, including internal sales for consumption and investment. To attribute the services of government employees in domestic product, so defined, to the government sector (or any other sector), it would be necessary to route such product through a nominal production account. Although the output and the input recorded in this nominal production account would be identical, the output would have to be treated like nonfactor services, and the input, like factor services. Similar imputations would have to be made for other components of domestic product that do not involve processing.11 Quite apart from the logical difficulties involved, the separation (if possible) of the product that originates in each sector would not be of great help in explaining the actions of the sector. Value added in a sector (or the sum of its factor income payments) is not a determinant of its behavior.

The income of the national economy, on the other hand, can usefully be deconsolidated. The income of a sector, and its variations, are among the major determinants of a sector’s economic transactions. How should income be defined for this purpose?

It may first be defined as income from production, or factor income. The total factor incomes of all domestic sectors added together are equal to national income, or net national product at factor cost. There is no one way in which national income should be deconsolidated, because part of the national income accrues as profits in corporations and is then redistributed, partly in the form of corporate taxes and partly in the form of dividends, the rest remaining in the enterprises as undistributed profits. The sector to which the various components are allocated as primary income determines the form of deconsolidation. The income can be allocated to the sector where it was originally earned and its redistribution in the form of corporate taxes and dividends shown in the accounts. However, it is the income as distributed to residents, and not the income originally earned by corporations (which includes investment income payable to nonresidents), that adds up to national income. The systems of national accounts, prepared by the United Nations and the Organization for European Economic Cooperation, give a subdivision of national income by distributive shares, and it seems reasonable to include in the integrated accounts a deconsolidation of national income on that conventional basis.

For the economy as a whole, however, it is not national income that is the most relevant aggregate for comparison with expenditure; the reason for this is that national income is expressed at factor cost, and national expenditure at market price, i.e., factor cost plus indirect taxes minus subsidies. Therefore, if the expenditure of the individual sectors and that of the economy as a whole are to be related to one another, national income at market prices, i.e., national income at factor cost plus indirect taxes minus subsidies, must be deconsolidated. The alternative of reducing expenditure to factor cost is not practicable. Indirect taxes and subsidies can readily be allocated to the government sector. The sum of national income and indirect taxes net of subsidies is known as net national product at market price, a total which is on the same valuation basis as national expenditure. This total can also be deconsolidated if indirect taxes received and subsidies paid are allocated to the government sectors as positive and negative income.

After the first distribution of factor income, the income accruing to each sector is again distributed, mainly through taxes that transfer income to the government sector and through transfer payments by the government to other sectors. The disposable incomes of all the sectors after this distribution do not necessarily add up to net national product at market prices. The total may be smaller or larger than the net national product as a result of international transfers. In comparing income and expenditure for the economy as a whole and for the individual sectors, disposable income after taxes and other transfers is, perhaps, the most relevant concept. It is the difference between disposable income (rather than factor income) and expenditure for both consumption and investment that is matched by financial transactions. Disposable income of all domestic sectors does not add to any conventional aggregate, but the sum might conveniently be termed national disposable income at market price. This total should also be shown in the accounts.

In addition to national income, at factor cost and market price, and national disposable income, the accounts should deconsolidate national consumption, saving, and domestic capital formation.12 Even the financial transactions of individual sectors can be effectively related, by the method of aggregation, to the over-all financial transactions of the economy, i.e., to its balance of payments with the rest of the world on capital account. This is because usually a large portion of international capital movements, as recorded in the balance of payments, can be identified as referring to the transactions of particular sectors (e.g., central government, the banking system, or the sector for nonfinancial corporations).

The balance of payments problem of a country is often viewed as arising from an excess of domestic real investment and the autonomous outflow of capital, on the one hand, and domestic saving and the autonomous inflow of capital, on the other, and the problem of equilibrium of the individual sectors can usefully be analyzed in somewhat similar terms and related to the over-all balance of payments problem. To facilitate balance of payments analysis, as well as for other reasons, it is therefore important that integrated national accounts be presented in such a way that developments in the individual sectors are related to developments in the over-all economy in a simple and direct manner.

Problems of Sectoring

An economy may be divided into two types of sector—those whose major activity is the production or consumption of goods and services, and those whose major activity is the creation of financial assets for other sectors and the acceptance of liabilities of other sectors.

The traditional national income statistics focus on the former type and usually divide the economy into three sectors: enterprises, households, and general government. These sectors are functional rather than institutional, i.e., they cover types of activity rather than groups of economic decision-making units. Enterprises cover not only corporations and unincorporated businesses, but also the imputed business activities of households associated with ownership of owner-occupied dwellings and the enterprise activity of the government. Enterprises so defined are engaged in production only and have no consumption. The household sector includes all nongovernment consumers. Although a limited amount of production is attributed to it, the household sector is set up to cover the function of consumption rather than a particular social group, in the same way that the enterprise sector is set up to cover the function of production rather than a group of institutions. Therefore, the enterprise and household sectors overlap in terms of actual decision-making units. If the same economic unit (say, a farmer) combines both production and consumption activities, it will be split between the enterprise sector and the household sector. General government covers the public administration activities of both central and local governments and excludes government production of goods and services for sale, which is ascribed to the enterprise sector. Thus, the general government sector, like the household sector, is mainly a consumer. It consumes both the services directly created by its own activity (the services of government employees) and the goods and services that it purchases from the enterprise sector and from abroad.

The simplest forms of financial statistics usually distinguish at least three sectors, each of which is defined institutionally rather than functionally: the central government, the monetary system, and a residual private sector, which combines households, enterprises, and local government. Where financial statistics are more highly developed, they distinguish a larger number of sectors. The monetary system may be divided into its component parts, such as the central bank and commercial banks. In addition to the monetary system, various types of other financial institutions are usually distinguished, although sometimes they are combined with monetary institutions in a financial sector. Within the nonfinancial sectors, central government, local government, government enterprises, nonfinancial corporations, other unincorporated enterprises, and households may be identified as separate sectors. In such cases, the classification by sector on an institutional basis may give way in part to a functional classification—particularly in the separation of unincorporated enterprises from households and of government enterprises from government.

When financing statistics are to be integrated with national income statistics, the sectoring of the two parts of the integrated system must be coordinated. What type of sectoring is desirable for the integrated system?

Conceptually, there is no difficulty in constructing a system that distinguishes the transactions in all categories of a large number of sectors. The accounts may show separately the productive activity of the monetary system, the various types of other financial institutions, insurance companies, etc., so that a fully integrated statement for each sector is developed. On the other hand, it is not necessary that the sectors distinguished in one part of the accounts be exactly the same as those distinguished in the other part. It is possible, for instance, to distinguish relatively few sectors in the part that covers the traditional national accounts, and to have a more detailed record by sector of transactions in financial assets and liabilities, provided, of course, that the sectors used in one part of the accounts can be obtained by combining those in the other part.

A major purpose of the integration of the traditional national accounts with financial statistics is to identify the sector origin of expansionary and contractionary forces in the economy. Insofar as these forces are analyzed in terms of the concept of income, a net expansionary impulse is an excess of expenditure over income, both defined in terms of the concepts of the traditional national accounts.13 Such impulses are reflected in the accounts in an excess of investment over saving, or vice versa, or in the borrowing and lending of individual sectors.

From this standpoint, the separate recording of income and expenditure of financial institutions is of little interest, because the net borrowing or lending of financial institutions is next to zero. The influence of such institutions on expansion and contraction in the economy is exerted mainly through the changes in the income and expenditure of other sectors which are induced by the institutions’ financial transactions. Therefore, for analyzing the influence of financial institutions on the rest of the economy, data on their income and expenditure are not essential. Neither are such data of much value in interpreting the financial transactions of the institutions.

Little would be lost, from the standpoint of analysis, and much would be gained in statistical simplification, by combining the income and expenditure of financial institutions with those of nonfinancial enterprises in the upper part of the accounts. The only noteworthy disadvantage would be a slight distortion of the accounts for nonfinancial enterprises; however, this would not materially affect the analysis of the relationship between the financial and the nonfinancial transactions of such enterprises.

In integrating the two parts of the accounts, it should not be assumed that all financial institutions have similar functions in processes of expansion and contraction. They comprise two rather different groups. The monetary system, as distinct from other financial institutions, can create its own liabilities and is not limited in its power to expand credit by the financial resources made available to it by the rest of the economy. While expansion of bank credit may create a balance of payments deficit, the monetary system also usually disposes of the foreign exchange reserves of the country and, together with the central government, has the possibility of obtaining compensatory financing in other forms from abroad and of introducing a variety of measures to eliminate the deficit. For this reason, and because of its ability to create money, the monetary system has considerable freedom in expanding credit; in fact, bank credit is used as one of the major instruments of economic policy to stimulate or dampen economic activity. The financial transactions of the monetary system must, therefore, be distinguished in the integrated national accounts.

Other financial institutions play a much less active role in processes of expansion and contraction. In acquiring financial assets, they depend largely on the savings channeled through them by the rest of the economy or on credit received from the monetary system or from one another. While knowledge of their financial transactions is necessary for the understanding of the detailed working of the financial system, it is by no means essential for an analysis of the major expansionary and contractionary forces in the economy, i.e., for the study of those problems to which integrated national accounts statistics (as distinct from financial statistics) are mainly addressed.

In any system of integrated accounts, local government must be distinguished from central government. Both provide public administration and collect taxes; for that reason, their transactions are combined in traditional national income statistics. However, the central government, in contrast to local government, exercises a major influence on the activity of the rest of the economy. Since it controls the monetary system, it has great freedom to spend beyond its income. Its influence on economic activity extends beyond its direct addition to, or deduction from, the income stream. Its lending operations have an effect on spending similar to bank credit, and the liquidity of the economy is greatly influenced by its debt management. A full record of the government’s financial, as well as of its nonfinancial, transactions is, therefore, necessary in the integrated national accounts. To avoid a distortion of the record of central government transactions, it is also significant to show local government separately.

A simplified model

In the integration of the traditional national income statistics with financial statistics, as in other statistical work, priorities must be considered. A relatively simple model can provide answers to most of the questions to which the integrated statistics are addressed. While additional data will provide answers to more questions, the marginal value of these data must be carefully weighed against the cost of obtaining them. At some point, the marginal value will be less than cost, and at some later point the marginal value will even become negative, i.e., when the mass of data becomes too much for the mind to absorb.

Much can be said, therefore, for beginning work on the integration of national income and financial statistics on a relatively modest scale. Rather than to begin by defining a mammoth matrix with a number of empty boxes that can be filled only in the long run, it would seem useful to begin by putting a few key series together in a meaningful form. This procedure is advisable at least for the statistically less advanced countries. While these countries may not have the facilities for constructing statements of the economic transactions of a large number of sectors—and because of the relatively simple structure of their economic and financial system, they may not need such data—they should be able to compile data for a simplified system of integrated national accounts which could give them a valuable tool for analyzing their policy problems.

A simplified presentation of a set of integrated national accounts statistics in the form of a numerical example is outlined in Table 2. It distinguishes only three sectors in each part of the accounts. The central government sector appears in both parts, but the other sectors in the upper part of the table differ from those in the lower part. In the upper part, local government is distinguished in order to complete the record of taxes and other transfers received and paid by general government and of general government consumption. However, in the lower part of the table, local government is merged with the private nonmonetary sector, since the transactions of local government usually play only a minor role and are somewhat similar to those of the private sector. On the other hand, in the upper part of the table, the monetary sector is merged with the private sector, but in the lower part it is shown separately.

Table 2.Simplified Presentation of Integrated National Accounts
Private Sector

(excl. local



1.National income8,8008,800
2.Indirect taxes and subsidies100600700
3.Net national product at market prices (1 plus 2)8,8001006009,500
4.Income taxes and other domestic transfers−2,0006501,350
5.International transfers50800850
6.Disposable income (3 through 5)6,8507502,75010,350
8.Saving (6 plus 7)1,050150−450750
10.Sales of existing investment goods130130
11.Gross fixed investment−2,500−100−300−2,900
12.Change in inventories−250−250
13.Net capital formation (9 through 12)−2,120−100−300−2,520
Private Non-

monetary Sector

(incl. local



14.Net lending or borrowing (−) (8 plus 13)−1,0302102−750−1,770
15.International direct investment390390
16.Government lending300−345−45
17.Bank lending205−1,1209153
18.Other borrowing and lending300300
19.Private holdings of domestic money−165165
20.Foreign exchange9451801,125

The first item (item 14) is equal to the balance of payments on account of goods, services, and transfers. The remaining items cover the balance of payments on capital account.

The sum of the entries in the first two columns for item 14 is equal to the sum of the entries in the first two columns for items 8 and 13.

Net of government deposits.

The first item (item 14) is equal to the balance of payments on account of goods, services, and transfers. The remaining items cover the balance of payments on capital account.

The sum of the entries in the first two columns for item 14 is equal to the sum of the entries in the first two columns for items 8 and 13.

Net of government deposits.

The model also demonstrates the principle of aggregation discussed in this paper. It includes, in addition to the statement for individual sectors, a statement for the economy as a whole, in which the various national aggregates are accumulated from the sector accounts. It does not include an account for the rest of the world, but such a statement could readily be added after the statement for the economy as a whole. The entries for transfers14 and financial transactions for the economy as a whole are those that would appear in the balance of payments. For these categories, the entries for the rest of the world account would be the same as those in the column for the economy as a whole, but with sign reversed. In addition, the rest of the world account would show exports and imports of goods and services, including factor services. These have the same net balance as that for transactions in goods and services included in the column for the economy as a whole (i.e., as the balance of items 3, 7, and 13).

The first item in the statement covers national income by distributive shares, which is shown as accruing initially to the private sector. The gross transactions, whose net balance represents the national income, are not shown, but are netted in the first item. National income is net of indirect taxes paid and includes subsidies received. These are recorded in the second item as government receipts and payments, and the sum of the first two items in the total columns is thus equal to net national product at market prices. This total is followed by taxes and other transfers, after which a third total is drawn covering, in the total column, what was called earlier in this paper “national disposable income at market prices.” Next, consumption, saving, and the components of net domestic capital formation are shown, leaving as a balance the net lending and borrowing of each sector and of the nation.

Table 2 is intended to relate, in the simplest possible form, the income and expenditure of the individual sectors of the economy, both to the changes in the financial assets and liabilities of each sector and to the corresponding phenomena in the economy as a whole, including the repercussions in the balance of payments from an excess of national expenditure over national production, or vice versa. The presentation is oversimplified in that it does not distinguish financial transactions of local government from those of the private sector, and the record of financial transactions of the private sector is, therefore, somewhat distorted. The selection of sectors and items is illustrative only and is less than the desirable minimum for many countries. Also, the net method of recording income transactions may make the presentation unsuitable for a detailed study of the behavior of individual sectors. The model is not intended as a description of a complete accounting system suitable for compiling and publishing basic statistics. Therefore, it is not to be regarded as a substitute for existing national accounts and financing statistics, but as an illustration of a method of integrating these statistics with one another, focusing on the essential uses for which the integrated accounts are designed.

APPENDIX Treatment of Financial Institutions and Insurance Companies in the Accounting System

In traditional national accounts systems, special procedures are followed in recording transactions of financial institutions and insurance companies. In this paper, it has been assumed that the general scheme for recording and classifying transactions can be applied to transactions of such institutions and companies.

Financial institutions

The difficulties in recording in the national accounts systems the transactions of financial institutions in the same categories as those of other enterprises arise from obscurities in the concept of service. The term, service, is usually not applied to the original services of factors of production. The payments accruing from ownership of factors of production are referred to as factor income payments, which are treated as something radically different from services. It would, however, seem more reasonable to consider factor income as a payment for a factor service. If this viewpoint is accepted, the conventional distinction usually made between services, on the one hand, and factor income payments, on the other, seems to be based on a misunderstanding. Any service, factor or nonfactor, has as its counterpart a payment, unless it is rendered without a quid pro quo. The payment is the financial flow that moves in the opposite direction from the service. A service differs from factor income in that one expression refers to the real, and the other to the financial, aspect of a transaction. It is inconsistent, however, to describe factor services with reference to their financial counterparts when a similar procedure is not followed for intermediary or final services.

The conventional national accounts systems do not seem to apply the concept of factor income consistently. A payment of wages by an enterprise to an employee is considered a factor income payment, i.e., payment for a factor service. The payment of wages by a household to a servant is not considered a factor income payment but a payment for a service, i.e., a nonfactor service. Frequently, the household servant is considered to be a producer who sells services and makes factor income payments to himself, i.e., purchases factor services from himself. The routing of factor services through a nominal production account is assumed to change their character. Distinctions made on such a basis, referring to international transactions, determine in borderline cases whether certain services should be counted as domestic product in one country or in another.

A more satisfactory distinction between factor and nonfactor services could be based on whether or not a service includes an element of cost in addition to the original services of the factor of production. On that criterion, the household servant presumably would render a factor service. The plumber’s assistant carrying out a repair job for his employer would yield a nonfactor service, because the charge to the customer includes an element for the plumber’s overhead cost and profit.

In the national accounts systems, it is implicitly assumed that all interest is factor income. Therefore, interest payments are not treated as payments for “services,” i.e., nonfactor services. And because of the confusion in terminology that arises from the false distinction between services and factor income, interest is not treated as a payment for a service.

This paper assumes, however, that interest payments should be divided, like payments for labor services, into payments for factor services and payments for nonfactor services, according to whether they include an element of cost in addition to the original services rendered by the owner of the financial capital involved. On this basis, the interest received by a household constitutes factor income, i.e., payment for a factor service, but the interest received by a bank becomes a payment for a nonfactor service because the charge includes an element of the overhead cost and profit of the bank. If interest is so treated in the national accounts, no conceptual problem arises in identifying, without arbitrary imputations, a net product originating in financial institutions. The transactions shown in the accounts of these institutions may be readily classified in the categories suggested here.

Accordingly, this paper assumes that the services of financial capital are to be treated in the same way as the services of labor. Hence, interest payments are always treated as quid pro quo transactions. They are payments for factor services when accruing to the original owners of financial capital, and payments for non-factor services when they accrue to financial institutions. However, in this system, original services of financial capital are assumed to be routed through enterprise accounts in the same way as the original services of labor. All services of financial capital are, therefore, turned into nonfactor services (or goods and nonfactor services). It is also assumed that interest payments by households, general government, or any other consumer represent expenditure for consumption.

It is customary to exclude such interest payments from consumption, because they are said to represent transfers, and to make corresponding deductions from product and income. In the accounting system outlined here, such deductions could be made by charging all interest payments to production account (say, by treating them as factor income) and none of them to consumption account. Such adjustments would be consistent with the procedure now followed in deriving national product from domestic product and would result in figures for product and income by sector that would add up to the conventional totals. However, the deductions from product and income made for all consumer interest payments are not consistent with the postulate that such payments are transfers.15 If consumer interest payments are, in fact, to be treated as transfers, interest payments by domestic consumers to foreigners should not be deducted from product and income; on the other hand, deductions would have to be made for interest receipts by residents from foreign consumers. The deductions should be offset by additions to transfer payments.

These adjustments are noted merely to show how the treatment in this paper could be adapted to the concepts of consumer interest in the conventional systems of national accounts. A comprehensive discussion of the problems involved in consumer interest (either private or general government) and of the merits and demerits of the various treatments that might be proposed lies outside the scope of this paper. While capital services to consumers are given the same treatment in this paper as labor services to consumers, it is possible that on further consideration a treatment different from that in this paper or in the conventional systems of national accounts might seem preferable.

Insurance companies

In the balance of payments, insurance premiums and claims are treated as payments for services. This is slightly inaccurate in that both include, in individual cases, an element which has no quid pro quo. However, when a large number of transactions is considered and claims are offset against premiums, the balance may reasonably be regarded as a payment for a service. This service has an accounting counterpart in the cost and profit of the insurance companies.16 In the national accounts, the production of insurance companies is usually measured by their cost and profit only. Alternatively, it may be measured by the insurance service provided, if calculated as the difference between premiums and claims, as suggested here. If this is done, the transactions of insurance companies may be classified in the same way as those of other enterprises.

The transactions of life insurance companies present much more difficult problems. For simplicity of exposition, they are discussed here mainly with regard to premiums. Since term life insurance is similar to other insurance, only non-term life insurance is considered.

A premium on a nonterm life insurance policy is a single package of several elements. It includes an insurance element, which is similar to the premium on a term insurance policy for the same amount and on the same general conditions. It also includes an amount of saving, or lending by the policy holder to the insurance company, which may be measured by the increase in the actuarial value of the policy. However, part of the increase in the actuarial value may itself be attributed to imputed interest on previous lendings by the policy holder to the insurance company.

If these three elements are distinguished, the insurance service may be entered as a debit in the consumption account of the holder, the imputed interest entered as a credit to his production account (when it is defined as in this paper), and the increase in actuarial value entered as a debit in his financial transactions account. The debit balance of the three entries would, by definition, be equal to the premium. Opposite entries would have to be made in the accounts of the life insurance company. Here, however, both the insurance service and the interest payment would be entered on production account. The change in actuarial value would, of course, represent a financial transaction for the insurance company, as it does for the policy holder.

Mr. Høst-Madsen, Chief of the Balance of Payments Division, is a graduate of the University of Copenhagen. Before joining the Fund staff in 1946, he was with the Danmarks Nationalbank.

This paper is a modified and shortened version of a memorandum (“The Form of National Income Accounts in an Integrated System—A Comparison of a System of Sector Accounts with the Balance of Payments”) prepared for distribution to the Expert Group on Statistics of Changes in Financial Assets and Liabilities, convened by the Conference of European Statisticians, Geneva, Switzerland, February 23–27, 1959. Since another paper presented to this meeting, “The Theory and Use of Financing Accounts,” by Earl Hicks (Staff Papers, Vol. VII, No. 2, pp. 159–67), focused on financing statistics, this paper deals mainly with the conceptual problems of combining national income and product statements with records of changes in financial assets and liabilities and does not discuss the classification of financing transactions.

“The flow-of-funds sector accounts can be visualized as a set of interlocking balance-of-payments statements, each of which, in major respects, is similar in format to balance-of-payments statements that have been developed to record the flow of international payments.” (See Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Flow of Funds in the United States, 1939–1953, Washington, 1955, p. 2.)

See International Monetary Fund, Balance of Payments Manual (Washington, D.C., January 1950).

The term “current” is no longer used in the Fund’s classification of international transactions. No generally accepted definition of the term exists; it is used by some countries to cover transactions in goods and services and by others to include a varying portion of donations, or all of them. The division of international transfers by some countries into current and other transactions is based on principles that vary from country to country; it may or may not coincide with the division of transfers between current and capital in the national accounts. The term “current account” was used in the Balance of Payments Manual to cover goods, services, and donations; but since 1953, the division into current and capital accounts has been replaced in the Fund’s Balance of Payments Yearbook by a tripartite division into goods and services, donations, and capital transactions. This change will be included, and the national income term “transfers” substituted for “donations,” in a revised version of the Manual.

Although international investment income is always treated as factor income in the national accounts, it refers in part to the capital services of enterprise rather than the original services provided by the owners of financial capital. Such “processed” services might well be regarded as nonfactor services (see Appendix).

The rationale of the conventional distinction between factor services and nonfactor services (or between “services” and “factor income”) is discussed in the Appendix.

If a deconsolidation by sector of net domestic product at market prices is attempted, the share originating in each sector may be measured by the net balance of the sector’s transactions in goods and nonfactor services, i.e., the transactions recorded in items A and B. If a sector’s contribution to net domestic product at factor cost is to be measured, indirect taxes paid by the sector must be deducted from this balance, and subsidies received by the sector must be added. Any attribution of domestic product by sector, however, is of questionable value.

A typical example of a balance of payments formulation of sector accounts is a sample table presented on page 15 of The National Economic Accounts of the United States (Hearings Before the Subcommittee on Economic Statistics of the Joint Economic Committee, Congress of the United States, Washington, 1957).

For national accounts purposes, current transactions usually include those goods and services that relate to production and consumption, and most transfers. Sometimes, all transfers are classified as current; but in some countries and systems, a distinction is drawn between current transfers and capital transfers. Transactions on capital account include mainly those that represent changes in assets and liabilities referring to either real capital or to financial assets and liabilities. In addition, some countries and systems classify certain transfers (the so-called capital transfers) in the capital account. For simplicity of exposition, it will be assumed here that all transfers are current.

For use of the term “current” in balance of payments methodology, see footnote 4.

See Central Statistical Office, National Income Statistics: Sources and Methods (London, 1956), pp. 25–26: “It is evident that each payment from an account is also a receipt in another account. For example, the payment of personal income tax appears on the payments side of the personal income and expenditure account and as a receipt in the Central Government’s revenue account. Wages are paid from the United Kingdom production account to the personal income and expenditure account. Thus it would be possible to present the social accounts in such a way that every payment reappeared as an identifiable receipt in another account. Such a system of social accounts is said to be ‘articulated.’ Complete articulation is often impossible in practice, for lack of information; although helpful to the estimator, it is essential neither to the formulation nor to the presentation of social accounts.”

The conventional production accounts for the economy as a whole cannot be derived by consolidating the production accounts for the domestic sectors even if all these imputations are made. This is mainly because some of the transactions shown in such accounts as “expenditure on domestic product” refer in fact to expenditure on foreign product that is in no way processed in domestic sectors, e.g., the expenditures of residents traveling abroad, and some imports for investment. Such purchases do not have a counterpart in sales by domestic sectors. Likewise, exports include sales of existing assets which do not appear as credits to the production accounts for the domestic sectors. While the conventional production account for the economy as a whole represents a true identity (on the assumption that consumption and investment are measured net of sales of existing assets) and is extremely useful for purposes of analysis, it is, in fact, an account for sources and uses of real resources rather than a production account.

In the national accounts systems, the term “domestic” is used for totals covering transactions on the domestic territory, and the term “national” for totals covering transactions of residents. Domestic capital formation is used here as the conventional term for what should more accurately be labeled “national capital formation,” since it refers to real investment by residents and not real investment on the domestic territory.

An excess of the expenditure of a sector over its income, or vice versa, does not necessarily mean that the corresponding expansionary or contractionary impulse originated in that sector. It may have been induced by financial transactions—for example, by an expansion or contraction of bank credit or by government lending to the sector. Also, the border line between income and expenditure, on the one hand, and financial transactions, on the other, is only formal where the sectoring has resulted in the splitting up of economic units and the recording of imputed financial flows, such as the change in the equity of households in unincorporated enterprises and in that of central or local government in government enterprises. Such imputed financing may usefully be added to net borrowing and lending in the analysis of the sector origin of expansionary or contractionary impulses. International direct investment is a related phenomenon in the transactions between the economy and the rest of the world.

Indirect taxes and subsidies cancel out for the economy as a whole, since they are deducted in the calculation of national income.

They seem to be based on the approach outlined on page 72 of Measurement of National Income and the Construction of Social Accounts (League of Nations, Committee of Statistical Experts, Geneva, 1947); according to this report, interest paid by a government and individual consumers is considered to be negative income from property.

Strictly speaking, the actuarial value of the services differs from cost and profit of the insurance companies, as calculated by them, by their net transfers to and from premium reserves. Equating the value of the insurance with cost and profit implies the assumption that transfers to and from premium reserves represent movements in undistributed earnings of insurance companies.

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