Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
n. 1 A measure of all flows of money into and out of a country including payments for goods and services and capital flows. 2 The systematic record of such transactions.
n. a system of recording all of a country's economic transactions with the rest of the world over a period of one year; "a favorable balance of payments exists when more payments are coming in than going out" [syn: balance of international payments]
The balance of payments, also known as balance of international payments and abbreviated BoP, of a country is the record of all economic transactions between the residents of the country and the rest of the world in a particular period (over a quarter of a year or more commonly over a year). These transactions are made by individuals, firms and government bodies. Thus the balance of payments includes all external visible and non-visible transactions of a country. It represents a summation of country's current demand and supply of the claims on foreign currencies and of foreign claims on its currency . These transactions include payments for the country's exports and imports of goods, services, financial capital, and financial transfers. It is prepared in a single currency, typically the domestic currency for the country concerned. Sources of funds for a nation, such as exports or the receipts of loans and investments, are recorded as positive or surplus items. Uses of funds, such as for imports or to invest in foreign countries, are recorded as negative or deficit items.
When all components of the BOP accounts are included they must sum to zero with no overall surplus or deficit. For example, if a country is importing more than it exports, its trade balance will be in deficit, but the shortfall will have to be counterbalanced in other ways – such as by funds earned from its foreign investments, by running down central bank reserves or by receiving loans from other countries.
While the overall BOP accounts will always balance when all types of payments are included, imbalances are possible on individual elements of the BOP, such as the current account, the capital account excluding the central bank's reserve account, or the sum of the two. Imbalances in the latter sum can result in surplus countries accumulating wealth, while deficit nations become increasingly indebted. The term balance of payments often refers to this sum: a country's balance of payments is said to be in surplus (equivalently, the balance of payments is positive) by a specific amount if sources of funds (such as export goods sold and bonds sold) exceed uses of funds (such as paying for imported goods and paying for foreign bonds purchased) by that amount. There is said to be a balance of payments deficit (the balance of payments is said to be negative) if the former are less than the latter. A BOP surplus (or deficit) is accompanied by an accumulation (or decumulation) of foreign exchange reserves by the central bank.
Under a fixed exchange rate system, the central bank accommodates those flows by buying up any net inflow of funds into the country or by providing foreign currency funds to the foreign exchange market to match any international outflow of funds, thus preventing the funds flows from affecting the exchange rate between the country's currency and other currencies. Then the net change per year in the central bank's foreign exchange reserves is sometimes called the balance of payments surplus or deficit. Alternatives to a fixed exchange rate system include a managed float where some changes of exchange rates are allowed, or at the other extreme a purely floating exchange rate (also known as a purely flexible exchange rate). With a pure float the central bank does not intervene at all to protect or devalue its currency, allowing the rate to be set by the market, and the central bank's foreign exchange reserves do not change, and the balance of payments is always zero.
Usage examples of "balance of payments".
The Marsh System wasn't going to be posing any threats to the Manticoran balance of payments with Silesia any time soon, but Honor was delighted to see how shrewdly and successfully the planet was exploiting its new industrial power by expanding into the Silesian trade.
Now I can take my money and go home, or I can contribute to the government's balance of payments and to your salary.
The balance of payments was made up by what the Dutch in Indonesia spent when they came to this delightful place on leave.