Understanding Financial Accounts

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Understanding Financial Accounts seeks to show how a range of questions on financial developments can be answered with the framework of financial accounts and balance sheets, by providing non-technical explanations illustrated with practical examples: What are the basic principles, concepts and definitions used for this framework which is part of the system of national accounts? What sources and which methodologies are used for their compilation? How are these used to monitor and analyse economic and financial developments? What can we learn about the 2007-2009 economic and financial crisis when looking at the numbers provided in this framework? What can we learn about financial risks and vulnerabilities? This publication is intended for young statisticians, students, journalists, economists, policy makers and citizens, who want to know more about the statistics that are at the heart of the analysis of financial developments in OECD economies.




The 2007-09 financial and economic crisis started with a collapse in the US housing market which triggered defaults on subprime mortgages. The trouble quickly spread to other financial markets, leading to great financial instability and multiple defaults of financial corporations, not only in the United States but throughout the world. This in turn ushered in the deepest recession since the 1930s. Economic growth turned significantly negative in many countries and unemployment rates increased sharply, especially among younger people. An important indirect impact was the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, with Greece as the most prominent example.


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