5232.0 - Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts, Sep 2003  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 19/12/2003   
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  • Explanatory Notes


1 This publication contains financial profiles of each subsector of the economy and the market for each conventional financial instrument. There are also tables showing inter-sectoral financial transactions and measures of sectoral financial surpluses and deficits.

2 Financial accounts of various types - which are also called flow of funds statistics - are published by many OECD countries, including the United States (from 1945), the United Kingdom (from 1952) and Canada (from 1962). In Australia, the Reserve Bank produced annual flow of funds accounts for the reference years 1953-54 to 1988-89. The final edition of these was published in the Reserve Bank's Bulletin for November 1989. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has published quarterly estimates commencing with experimental estimates of inter-sectoral financial transactions for the March and June quarters 1989.

Concepts, sources and methods

3 From the September quarter 1998 the ABS financial accounts have been produced according to a revised international standard, the System of National Accounts, released in 1993 (SNA93) under the auspices of five international organisations: Commission of the European Communities - Eurostat, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations, and World Bank. There are significant conceptual differences between the SNA93-based ABS Financial Accounts and the previous Financial Accounts (see ABS Information Paper Cat. no. 5254.0).

4 The ABS has released an updated version of Australian National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Cat. no. 5216.0), which provides detailed descriptions of the concepts, data sources and methodologies used in compiling the Australian national accounts, including the financial accounts, on an SNA93 basis. The document was released in December 2000. Selected concepts, sources and methods are outlined below. More detailed explanations can be obtained from the contact on the front cover of this publication.

Stock and flow concepts

5 Tables 1 to 16 and 34 to 41 present balance sheet data at market prices at the end of each calendar quarter. Balance sheet data are also known as stock, level or position data. In contrast Tables 17 to 33 show net inter-sectoral financial transactions during the quarters. These are flow data. In this publication, the net transactions or flows, are defined as active dealing in a financial instrument.

The classification of institutional sectors and subsectors

6 The institutional sectors are based on the Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia 1998 (Cat. no. 1218.0) and are the same as the sectors used in national income and expenditure accounts.

7 The basic unit that is classified by sector is the institutional unit, which is defined as an economic entity that is capable, in its own right, of owning assets, incurring liabilities and engaging in economic activities and transactions with other entities.

Sources of data

8 Most of the financial data in this publication are derived from statistical surveys conducted by the ABS. Some other data sources are used, particularly for valuation adjustments.

9 The quarterly sectoral capital accounts in the flow of funds matrices are prepared using a variety of indicators to dissect annual estimates based on survey data. Some of the indicators used are known to be of poor quality, these are footnoted in tables to note the quality concerns and should be used with caution.

Compilation methods

10 The levels (stock) tables are prepared by gathering together balance sheet information from various sources and selecting the better estimates. A choice is often possible because different data sources provide alternative or counterpart measures of the same item. For example, borrowing by State owned non-financial corporations will be reported by the State central borrowing authorities or Treasuries as assets and by the non-financial corporations as liabilities. The sub-sector aggregates derived from these data do not agree because the ABS does not survey all State owned non-financial corporations. In this case, the data from the central borrowing authorities and Treasuries are therefore used to estimate both the asset and liability aspects of these borrowings.

11 In some cases, transactions data are directly-collected. In other cases transactions must be derived from the difference in consecutive levels. These net financial transactions are derived by taking the difference between closing and opening levels of balance sheet items and, where possible, eliminating changes on the balance sheet caused by valuation effects such as exchange rate movements.

Accounting basis

12 SNA93 states explicitly that the national accounts should record transactions on an accrual basis (as opposed to a cash or 'due for payment' basis), to reflect the time when economic value is transferred rather than when cash relating to the transaction is paid or falls due for payment. For practical reasons complete implementation of accrual accounting throughout the national accounts is not yet possible. Some areas where accrual accounting has not been adopted include:

  • accrual of household income tax; and
  • accrual of certain employee entitlements, including recreation and long service leave.

13 In these statistics tradeable securities, which include shares listed on ASX and debt securities traded on organised markets, are valued at market prices.

14 Other securities are assigned estimated market values. For example, equity not listed on ASX is valued on the basis of value of total assets of the enterprise in question less the value of any repayable liabilities.

15 Deposits, loans and other accounts payable/receivable are recorded at their face value.

16 Net equity of pension funds in life office reserves are valued on the basis of market value of total assets (including non financial assets) of the funds less any repayable liabilities.

Related statistics

17 Related ABS publications which may also be of interest include:
  • Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (Cat. no. 5204.0) - issued annually:
  • Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product (Cat. no. 5206.0) - issued quarterly;
  • Australian National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Cat. no. 5216.0) - latest issue, 1990;
  • Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (Cat. no. 5302.0) - issued quarterly;
  • Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia (Cat. no. 5363.0) - issued annually;
  • Balance of Payments and International Investment Position, Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Cat. no. 5331.0) - latest issue, 1998;
  • Government Financial Estimates, Australia (Cat. no. 5501.0) - issued annually
  • Government Financial Statistics, Australia (Cat. no. 5512.0) - issued annually;
  • Managed Funds, Australia (Cat. no. 5655.0) - issued quarterly;
  • Australian National Accounts, National Balance Sheet (Cat. no. 5241.0) - latest issue 1999 - 2000;
  • Information Paper: Upgraded Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (Cat. no. 5254.0);
  • Information paper: Upgraded Australian National Accounts (Cat. no. 5253.0);
  • Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA) 1998 (Cat. no. 1218.0) - latest issue, 1998.

Unpublished information

18 The ABS has available on request unpublished stock data back to the December quarter 1988 and transactions flow data back to the March Quarter 1989. Also, different views of the data are available.

19 In addition to catalogued products, some priced special data reports are available covering bank lending to households and unincorporated businesses, public sector debt and net financing requirement, detailed sectoral capital account data, housing loans outstandings by type of lending institution, and details of households' deposits with banks.

20 A more extensive set of explanatory notes and a glossary relevant to the financial accounts are available from the contact on the front of this publication.

21 Inquiries should be made to the contact on the front cover of this publication.

Effects of rounding

22 Any discrepancies between totals and sums of components in the tables are caused by rounding.