Front Matter

Front Matter

Adriaan Bloem, Robert Dippelsman, and Nils Mæhle
Published Date:
May 2001
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    ©2001 International Monetary Fund

    Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data

    Bloem, Adriaan M.

    Manual for quarterly national accounts : concepts, data sources, and compilation / by Adriaan M. Bloem, Robert J. Dippelsman, and Nils Ø. Mæhle. -- Washington, D.C. : International Monetary Fund, 2001.

    • p. : ill.; cm.

    • Includes bibliographical references.

    • ISBN 1-58906-031-8

    1. National income – Accounting – Handbooks, manuals, etc. I. Dippelsman, Robert J. II. Mæhle, Nils Øyvind, III. International Monetary Fund.

    HC79.I5 B46 2001

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    Although this manual has benefitted from comments from IMF colleagues, it represents the views of the authors and not necessarily those of the IMF.

    Table of contents


    The recent financial crises taught us a number of important lessons. We were reminded that, for adjustment programs to be sustainable, there must be careful attention to institution-building, the social dimensions of structural change, and a country’s political and cultural traditions. We have worked closely with other international organizations to develop standards and codes for sound monetary and fiscal policies, banking supervision, and economic data. Work in all of these areas helps to promote financial stability, and it helps countries take advantage of the enormous potential of private capital markets. In this context, it is important to develop instruments to improve the ability to detect sources of vulnerability and to propose timely corrective measures. One focus of the IMF’s work in this area is on increasing the availability of key data.

    The IMF has undertaken a range of activities in this regard. Significant among these is the development of two data initiatives, namely, the Special Data Dissemination Standard and the General Data Dissemination System. For both these initiatives it is important that international guidelines be available to help countries develop internationally comparable statistics. In several areas where international guidelines have been lacking or have become outdated, the IMF has undertaken to fill the gaps. One such area concerns quarterly national accounts, and I am very pleased to introduce the Quarterly National Accounts Manual, which has been drafted to help countries establish or strengthen quarterly national accounts that meet international standards. This manual takes its place alongside the other manuals prepared or being prepared in the IMF’s Statistics Department, including the Balance of Payments Manual, the Government Finance Statistics Manual, and the Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual. Like these other manuals, this manual is fully consistent with the System of National Accounts 1993.

    This manual is a direct result of technical assistance in support of the Special Data Dissemination Standard. It draws heavily from course material prepared for national accounts seminars for countries considering subscription to this Standard. The Manual has benefited from comments from country experts during these seminars and during an expert group meeting in June 2000, in which country experts and experts from other international organizations participated. I would like to thank all experts for their participation in the gestation process of this manual.

    Quarterly national accounts data play a vital role in the development and monitoring of sound economic and financial programs. At this time, only a minority of Fund member countries have the benefit of a well-established system of quarterly national accounts, although their number is rapidly increasing. I hope that this trend continues and would like to commend the Manual to compilers as an important instrument in this work.

    Horst Köhler

    Managing Director

    International Monetary Fund


    This Quarterly National Accounts Manual was developed from materials prepared for seminars in Thailand (1997 and 1998) and Jordan (2000). Like the seminars, the Manual is aimed particularly at compilers who already have a knowledge of national accounting concepts and methods in an annual context and are in the process of introducing or improving a quarterly national accounts (QNA) system. As well, we believe it will be of interest to national accounts compilers generally and to sophisticated QNA users. QNA are an increasingly important specialty within national accounting. More and more countries are recognizing QNA as an essential tool for the management and analysis of the economy. The Manual aims to complement the System of National Accounts 1993 (1993 SNA), which has only limited discussion of QNA, while retaining full consistency with that document.

    Some general guidelines that emerge from this manual are the following:

    • QNA should be built on a foundation of timely and accurate quarterly source data that directly cover a high proportion of the totals. Econometric methods and indirect behavioral relationships are not a substitute for data collection.

    • QNA should be made consistent with their annual equivalents, partly for the convenience of users and partly—and more fundamentally—because the benchmarking process incorporates the information content of the annual data into the quarterly estimates.

    • Revisions are needed to allow timely release of data and to allow incorporation of new data. Possible inconvenience of revisions can best be dealt with by openness about the process.

    • QNA data should be presented as consistent time series.

    • The potential scope of QNA is the whole of the 1993 SNA sequence of accounts. Although gross domestic product (GDP) and its components—the usual starting point—are important, other parts of the national accounts system are also useful and achievable.

    • Seasonally adjusted data, trend data, and unadjusted data all provide useful perspectives, but the unadjusted data should be the foundation of national accounts compilation.

    Within these guidelines, the sources, methods, and scope of each country’s QNA system will differ according to circumstances such as user preferences, availability of source data, and economic conditions. Accordingly, our objective is not to give fixed answers but to indicate the range of alternatives and to supply general principles that can be applied to develop a QNA system suitable for each country’s circumstances.

    We hope that the Manual will find its way to a broad readership and will support the introduction, improvement, and wise use of QNA in many countries.

    Carol S. Carson


    Statistics Department

    International Monetary Fund


    The authors are grateful for comments from IMF colleagues, particularly from Carol S. Carson, Paul Armknecht, Paul Cotterell, Jemma Dridi, Segismundo Fassler, Cor Gorter, John Joisce, Sarmad Khawaja, Manik Shrestha, and Kim Zieschang. The authors are also grateful for comments from the participants in a workshop held in July, 2000 to discuss the draft manual, namely, Mr. Roberto Barcellan (Eurostat), Mr. Raul Garcia Belgrano (ECLAC), Ms. Marietha Gouws (South Africa), Mr. Peter Harper (Australia), Ms. Barbro Hexeberg (World Bank), Ms. Olga Ivanova (World Bank), Mr. Ronald Janssen (The Netherlands), Mr. Paul McCarthy (OECD), Mr. Dave McDowell (Canada), Ms. Chellam Palanyandy (Malaysia), Mr. Robert Parker (USA), Mr. Eugene Seskin (USA), Mr. Jan van Tongeren (UN), and Mr. Agustín Velázquez (Venezuela). Useful comments were also received through the IMF’s website. The authors retain full responsibility for any remaining omissions and errors.

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