Balance of Payments
A balance of payments (BOP) sheet is an accounting record of all monetary transactions between a country and the rest of the world. These transactions include payments for the country's exports and imports of goods, services, and financial capital, as well as financial transfers. The BOP summarizes international transactions for a specific period, usually a year, and 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 sheet are included it 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 counter balanced in other ways – such as by funds earned from its foreign investments, by running down reserves or by receiving loans from other countries. While the overall BOP sheet will always balance when all types of payments are included, imbalances are possible on individual elements of the BOP, such as the current account. This can result in surplus countries accumulating hoards of wealth, while deficit nations become increasingly indebted. Historically there have been different approaches to the question of how to correct imbalances and debate on whether they are something governments should be concerned about. With record imbalances held up as one of the contributing factors to the financial crisis of 2007–2010, plans to address global imbalances have been high on the agenda of policy makers since 2009.