Methodology

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The following information should be used to ensure a clear understanding of the basics concepts that define the data provided in this product, of the underlying methodology, and of aspects of data quality. This information will provide users with a better understanding of the strengths and limitations of the data, and how they can be effectively used and analysed.

Concepts and variables measured

The Financial Flow Accounts (FFA) are statements of investment activity in the sectors of the economy: the non-financial and financial assets acquired as well as the financial liabilities incurred. The financial account is an extension of the Income and Expenditure Accounts (IEA).

The IEA measure aggregate economic activity through income generated from production and through final expenditure on production. This detail plus current transfers are broken down by institutional sector in the income and outlay account (current account) and capital finance account (capital account). These sector accounts are the link to the FFA (accumulation account), which show the transactions based changes in wealth, with emphasis on the financing of economic activity (financial account).

At the core of the FFA, each sector records saving (current income less current expenditure), depreciation, non-financial capital acquisition and transactions in a number of asset-liability financial instruments. In other words, the FFA are a sources and uses of funds statement. Gross savings includes net savings plus capital consumption allowance and miscellaneous valuation adjustments. Subtracting non-financial capital acquisition from Gross savings leaves the net amount each sector borrows or lends during a period. The net amount the sector borrows or lends is equivalent to net financial transactions - financial assets acquired less the net financial liabilities incurred (net financial investment). Financial transactions are measured on a net basis – that is increases less decreases for each financial instrument.

Sector accounts and transactions

The FFA is part of the integrated set of quarterly national accounts, and is situated between IEA income-spending and the National Balance Sheet Account (NBSA). The FFA account for part of the increase in NBSA wealth, with the other part being largely accounted for by capital gains/losses.

The sector accounts comprise four major sectors of the economy: persons and unincorporated business, corporations, governments and non-residents. The non-resident sector is the detail on Canada's Balance of International Payments. The corporate sector is broken down into a number of sub-sectors with the bulk of this detail comprising the transactions of the financial institutions, reflecting the importance of the financial system in transferring funds from surplus to deficit sectors. The government sector transactions are available by level of government. In total, there are 30 unique sectors in the FFA. The sectoring of the financial accounts emphasizes intermediation by showing the transactions of a number of financial institutions.

The financial market summary table

The financial market summary table excludes most of the intermediate borrowing by ignoring funds borrowed by financial institutions to leave summary "ultimate borrowing" of final demand for funds by non-financial sectors.

Coverage

All traditional assets and liabilities are in scope.

Valuation

Data are measured in nominal dollars terms.

Data sources and methodology

The FFA measure financial transactions on a quarterly basis and relies heavily on a wealth of information from various areas of Statistics Canada.

Sources

A very large amount of information from various survey divisions within the bureau, along with other data, are compiled, integrated and analysed as part of the process of producing estimates of financial transactions for the Canadian economy.

Major suppliers of data within Statistics Canada include Agriculture Division, Investment and Capital Stock Division, Income Statistics Division, Balance of Payments Division, Industrial Organization and Finance Division, Public Institutions Division. There are also a number of external and administrative sources of data used.

General methodology

Transaction in assets and liabilities, by detailed categories, are compiled for the major sectors of the economy. These transactions are often calculated as changes in the balance sheet levels between periods, with adjustments related to valuations, etc. Data are analysed for time series consistency, links to current economic events, issues arising from the source data, and finally with respect to coherence. Estimates are reconciled with data in the Income and Expenditure Accounts and the National Balance Sheet Accounts.

For further details on definitions, concepts, sources and methods, please refer to Financial Flow and National Balance Sheet Accounts – Concepts, Definitions, Sources and Methods, catalogue no. 13-585E.

Seasonal adjustment

Quarterly FFA data series are largely unadjusted for seasonal variation. However, selected quarterly aggregate data series are available on a seasonally-adjusted basis.

Revisions

Statistical revisions are carried out in order to incorporate the most recent information from quarterly and annual surveys, taxation statistics, public accounts, censuses, etc.

Estimates for each quarter are revised when those for subsequent quarters of the same year are published and when those for the first quarter of each of the next four years are published. They are not normally revised again except when historical revisions are carried out, usually once per decade.

Data quality (accuracy)

No direct measures of the margin of error in the estimates can be calculated. The quality of the estimates can be inferred from analysis of revisions and from a subjective assessment of the data sources and methodology used in the preparation of the estimates.

Comparability of data and related sources

It is not possible to produce an equivalent to the FFA, since no other data releases attempt to measure the flow of funds in the economy. The statement of change in financial position produced in Industrial Organization and Finance Division as part of the Quarterly Financial Statistics of Corporations is similar in concept, but notably quite different in detail (financial instruments, gains and losses, sector coverage), to the FFA. However, certain financial instrument flows are largely comparable with the limited amount of transactions detail published by other agencies such as the Bank of Canada.

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