International financial crises in the late 1990s underscored the importance of reliable and timely statistics on external debt as a critical element for the early detection of countries´ external vulnerability. Against this background, improving the quality of key external debt data and promoting convergence of recording practices became of vital importance.
External Debt Statistics: Guide for Compilers and Users (the Guide, 328 pages) provides clear guidance on the concepts, definitions, and classifications of gross external debt of the public and private sectors; the sources and techniques for compiling these data, and the analytical use of these data. The Guide also presents the tables that are relevant for the external debt category of the IMF´s data dissemination standards. The Guide was prepared by an Inter-Agency Task Force on Finance Statistics, chaired by the IMF, and involving representatives from the BIS, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the European Central Bank, Eurostat, the IMF, the OECD, the Paris Club Secretariat, UNCTAD, and the World Bank. The preparation of the Guide was based on the broad range of experience of these organizations, in close consultation with national compilers of external debt, balance of payments, and international investment position statistics.
The Guide updates the previous international guidance on external debt statistics, External Debt: Definition, Statistical Coverage and Methodology (widely known as the Grey Book), published in 1988. Since the publication of the Grey Book, there has been new international statistical guidance for national accounts and balance of payments statistics; a substantial growth in private sector financial flows, especially to private sector debtors; and, associated with these, an increased use of instruments such as debt securities and financial derivatives to manage and redistribute risks. The Guide is intended to be a useful source of reference to both compilers and users of external debt data.
The Guide´s conceptual framework derives from the System of National Accounts 1993 (1993 SNA) and the fifth edition of the IMF´s Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5), both issued in 1993. Two types of gross external debt tables are presented in the Guide: one focuses on all resident institutional sectors and the other on the role of the public sector. Nevertheless, additional data series are essential to assist in identifying potential external vulnerability problems arising from the external debt position. Therefore, the Guide goes beyond the 1993 SNA and BPM5 frameworks in specifying the concepts for the measurement and in providing more tables for the presentation of external debt data series, including: on a remaining maturity basis; the currency of denomination; and the debt service payment schedule. Frameworks for the presentation of external debt reorganizations and by the ultimate obligor - rather than the immediate obligor typically reported in economic statistics- are also provided. The Guide also explains the concept of net external debt -that is, a comparison of the external debt position with holdings of foreign financial assets in the form of debt instrument- and incorporates financial derivative positions into external debt analysis.
Copies of the Guide are available free of charge to journalists from:
IMF Media Relations Division
F: (202) 623-6772
Members of the general public may purchase copies of the Guide for US$60.00 each, plus tax, from:
IMF Publication Services
T: (202) 623-7430
F: (202) 623-7201