The Measurement of External Accounts
31 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2019
Date Written: June 2019
Growing international integration in trade and finance can challenge the measurement of external accounts. This paper presents a unified conceptual framework for identifying sources of mismeasurement of foreign investment income in current account balances. The framework allows to derive a precise definition of measurement distortions and an empirical strategy for estimating their importance. As an application, we empirically estimate two specific distortions related to inflation and retained earnings on portfolio equity for a broad set of countries. We find these may explain a non-trivial share of current account imbalances and that they are particularly relevant in countries with large external investment positions. We also discuss how merchanting and profit-shifting activities could lead to measurement distortions. We suggest areas for future research and underline the need to strengthen data collection efforts.
Keywords: Foreign investment income, Balance of payments statistics, Financial statistics, Economic integration, Foreign investment, International investment position, Current Account, Measurement, External Imbalances, Global Imbalances., retained earnings, NIIP, statistical definition, investment position, debt position
JEL Classification: F32, G11, G20, E01, F3, O24, E31, C
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