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National Accounts at a Glance 2013

image of National Accounts at a Glance 2013

National Accounts at a Glance presents information using an "indicator" approach, focusing on cross-country comparisons. The aim being to make the national accounts more accessible and informative, whilst, at the same time, taking the opportunity to present the conceptual underpinning of, and comparability issues inherent in, each of the indicators presented. 

The range of indicators reflects the richness inherent in the national accounts dataset and encourages users to refocus some of the spotlight that is often placed on gross domestic product (GDP) to other economic important indicators, which may better respond to their needs.  The publication is broken down into six key chapters, and provides indicators related to GDP, income, expenditure, production, government and capital respectively. Data are generally provided for the period 1998-2011.

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Financial assets and liabilities

The amount of financial assets and liabilities held by government has significant political and economic importance. The assets reflect a source of additional income available to government and a source of funds that it can draw on without necessarily increasing liabilities, for example as an additional lever to protect its currency when money markets exert prohibitive upward pressure on bond yields say. The liabilities reflect the debts accumulated by government and, so, provide an indication of the structural nature of debt interest payments (which add to government deficit). This matters because, in general, the higher the liabilities the higher the perceived risk of default (and therefore the higher the risk premium required by the market). Typically, this cycle can eventually force governments to either cut spending or raise taxes. General government gross debt’s importance, and, in particular, the importance of sustainable levels of debt, is reflected in the European Maastricht criteria, where it is one of the two measures referred to in the Excessive Deficit Procedure.

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