Financial instruments

Latest release
Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods
Reference period
2020-21 financial year

Monetary gold and SDRs

Monetary gold

15.70    The 2008 SNA defines monetary gold as gold to which the monetary authority has title, and that is held as reserve assets by a central bank or another authority.⁵⁵ It comprises bullion held in allocated gold accounts; other bullion; and unallocated gold accounts with non-residents, giving title to claim delivery of that gold. All monetary gold is included in reserve assets or is held by international financial organisations. Only gold that is held as a financial asset (and as a component of foreign reserves) is classified as monetary gold. Gold can be a financial asset only for the central bank or central government, except in limited institutional circumstances. In the 2008 SNA, gold bullion held as a reserve asset is the only financial asset with no corresponding liability.

15.71    The ASNA treatment of monetary gold differs slightly from the treatment outlined in the 2008 SNA, in that a liability of the rest of the world is imputed. All other gold held is treated as a physical commodity and is classified as either valuables (if the sole purpose is a store of wealth), or as final or intermediate consumption; change in inventories; and exports or imports.

Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)

15.72    SDRs are international reserve assets created by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and allocated to its members to supplement existing reserve assets. The Special Drawing Rights Department of the IMF manages reserve assets by allocating SDRs among member countries of the IMF, and certain international agencies (collectively known as the participants).

15.73    The mechanism by which SDRs are created (referred to as allocations of SDRs) and extinguished (cancellations of SDRs) gives rise to transactions. These transactions are recorded at the gross amount of the allocation. They are recorded in the financial accounts of the monetary authority or government of the individual participant on the one hand, and the rest of the world, representing the participants collectively on the other hand.

15.74    SDRs are held exclusively by official holders, which are central banks and certain other international agencies, and are transferable among participants and other official holders. SDR holdings represent each holder's assured and unconditional right to obtain other reserve assets, especially foreign exchange, from other IMF members. SDRs are assets with matching liabilities but the assets represent claims on the participants collectively and not on the IMF. A participant may sell some or all of its SDR holdings to another participant and receive other reserve assets, particularly foreign exchange, in return.

15.75    In Australia, the SDR allocation is recorded by the central government, and the SDR asset is recorded by the Reserve Bank of Australia. The RBA has a deposit liability to the central government.

Sources and methods - quarterly

15.76    The table below outlines the data sources and methods used in the estimation of quarterly monetary gold and SDRs in current prices. Real estimates are calculated for the national balance sheet.

Table 15.1 Quarterly monetary gold and SDRs
Monetary gold
 In Australia, only the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) has dealings in monetary gold with the Rest of the World. Source data for monetary gold are based on RBA estimates reported in the ABS Survey of International Investment. When gold is sold (or purchased) by the RBA:
  • to another monetary authority, the exchange is recorded as an exchange of financial assets, and the ASNA imputes a counterparty entry to the rest of the world; and
  • in all other cases, gold is first reclassified (recorded in the other changes in volume of assets account as de-monetisation of gold) as commodity gold, and this valuable is sold as commodity gold.
 In ASNA, SDRs transactions are carried out by National general government with the International Monetary Fund, and National general government exchanges the SDRs with the RBA for cash.

SDR liabilities are recorded against the National general government and rest of the world. SDR assets are recorded for the RBA and the rest of the world.

Source data for SDRs are based on RBA estimates reported in the ABS Survey of International Investment.


  1. 2008 SNA, para. 11.45.
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