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  • PRESS RELEASE

Euro area monthly balance of payments: December 2021

18 February 2022

  • Current account recorded €23 billion surplus in December 2021, down from €24 billion in previous month
  • Current account surplus amounted to €310 billion (2.6% of euro area GDP) in 2021, up from €213 billion (1.9%) in 2020
  • In financial account, euro area residents’ net acquisitions of non-euro area portfolio investment securities totalled €752 billion and non-residents’ net acquisitions of euro area portfolio investment securities totalled €240 billion in 2021

Chart 1

Euro area current account balance

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; working day and seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

The current account of the euro area recorded a surplus of €23 billion in December 2021, a decrease of €1 billion from the previous month (Chart 1 and Table 1). Surpluses were recorded for services (€18 billion), goods (€11 billion) and primary income (€7 billion). These were partly offset by a deficit for secondary income (€14 billion).

Table 1

Current account of the euro area

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; transactions; working day and seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Note: Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the current account of the euro area

In 2021, the current account recorded a surplus of €310 billion (2.6% of euro area GDP), compared with a surplus of €213 billion (1.9% of euro area GDP) in 2020. This increase was driven by larger surpluses for services (up from €6 billion to €123 billion) and primary income (up from €32 billion to €53 billion), only partly offset by a reduction in the surplus for goods (down from €340 billion to €296 billion). The deficit for secondary income remained broadly stable (down from €164 billion to €163 billion).

Chart 2

Selected items of the euro area financial account

(EUR billions; 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: For assets, a positive (negative) number indicates net purchases (sales) of non-euro area instruments by euro area investors. For liabilities, a positive (negative) number indicates net sales (purchases) of euro area instruments by non-euro area investors.

In direct investment, euro area residents made net investments of €107 billion in non-euro area assets in 2021, following net disinvestments of €15 billion in 2020 (Chart 2 and Table 2). Non-residents disinvested €168 billion in net terms from euro area assets in 2021, following net acquisitions of €160 billion in 2020.

In portfolio investment, euro area residents’ net purchases of non-euro area equity increased to €329 billion in 2021, up from €306 billion in 2020. Over the same period, net purchases of non-euro area debt securities by euro area residents increased to €423 billion, up from €368 billion in 2020. Non-residents’ net purchases of euro area equity increased to €453 billion in 2021, up from €118 billion in 2020. Over the same period, non-residents made net sales of euro area debt securities amounting to €213 billion, following net purchases of €17 billion in 2020.

Table 2

Financial account of the euro area

(EUR billions unless otherwise indicated; transactions; non-working day and non-seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: Decreases in assets and liabilities are shown with a minus sign. Net financial derivatives are reported under assets. “MFIs” stands for monetary financial institutions. Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the financial account of the euro area

In other investment, euro area residents recorded net acquisitions of non-euro area assets amounting to €164 billion in 2021 (following net acquisitions of €307 billion in 2020), while their net incurrence of liabilities increased to €744 billion (up from €456 billion in 2020).

Chart 3

Monetary presentation of the balance of payments

(EUR billions; 12-month cumulated data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: “MFI net external assets (enhanced)” incorporates an adjustment to the MFI net external assets (as reported in the consolidated MFI balance sheet items statistics) based on information on MFI long-term liabilities held by non-residents, available in b.o.p. statistics. B.o.p. transactions refer only to transactions of non-MFI residents of the euro area. Financial transactions are shown as liabilities net of assets. “Other” includes financial derivatives and statistical discrepancies.

The monetary presentation of the balance of payments (Chart 3) shows that the net external assets (enhanced) of euro area MFIs decreased by €151 billion in 2021. This decrease was mainly driven by euro area non-MFIs’ net outflows in portfolio investment debt and, to a lesser extent, in direct investment. These developments were partly offset by the current and capital accounts surplus and, to a lesser extent, by euro area non-MFIs’ net inflows in portfolio investment equity, other investment and other flows.

In December 2021 the Eurosystem’s stock of reserve assets increased to €1,057.0 billion, up from €1,045.4 billion in the previous month (Table 3). This increase was driven by positive price changes in monetary gold (€10.8 billion) and positive exchange rate changes (€1.5 billion), only partly offset by net sales of assets (€0.8 billion).

Table 3

Reserve assets of the euro area

(EUR billions; amounts outstanding at the end of the period, flows during the period; non-working day and non-seasonally adjusted data)

Source: ECB.

Notes: “Other reserve assets” comprises currency and deposits, securities, financial derivatives (net) and other claims. Discrepancies between totals and their components may be due to rounding.

Data for the reserve assets of the euro area

Data revisions

This press release incorporates revisions to the data for October and November 2021. These revisions did not significantly alter the figures previously published.

Next releases:

  • Monthly balance of payments: 22 March 2022 (reference data up to January 2022)
  • Quarterly balance of payments and international investment position: 5 April 2022 (reference data up to the fourth quarter of 2021)

For media queries, please contact Philippe Rispal, tel.: +49 69 1344 5482.

Notes

  • Current account data are always seasonally and working day-adjusted, unless otherwise indicated, whereas capital and financial account data are neither seasonally nor working day-adjusted.
  • Hyperlinks in this press release lead to data that may change with subsequent releases as a result of revisions.
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Banca centrale europea

Direzione Generale Comunicazione

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