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First Results of Quarterly National Accounting Based on ESA 1995

  • Marcus Scheiblecker

    (WIFO)

The first results of quarterly national accounting on the basis of the ESA 1995 system (European System of Accounts) have been available for Austria since the end of 1999. In the process of change-over to the new system, which is now mandatory within the European Union, accounting according to the previously applicable ESA 1979 regime was discontinued. The new data series comprise the output, expenditure and earnings sides of the gross domestic product and are supplemented by recordings of labour market developments and disposable incomes. For the time being, the period covered only extends from the beginning of 1995 to the third quarter of 1999. Further quarterly results will be published and communicated to the European Commission three months after the end of each quarter. Unlike under the old system, all the values communicated to the Commission must also be corrected for seasonal effects. Besides the introduction of some new data as a basis for national accounting, new calculation methods have been applied. However, given the very short time series underlying the econometric procedures used for the quarterly distribution of the annual values as well as the methods applied for seasonal correction, the results suffer from a relatively large measure of statistical uncertainty. More reliable information on quarterly and seasonal patterns will be available as soon as the annual values have been calculated as far back as 1988, an exercise scheduled to be completed by "Statistics Austria" before the end of this year. Despite some major innovations, such as the inclusion of intangible fixed assets (e.g. software), the possibility of entering depreciation on infrastructure, and the shift of the base year of the real calculation from 1983 to 1995, the change-over from ESA 1979 to ESA 1995 has had very little impact on the economic trend in the most recent past. However, given the short time series currently available and in view of the planned revision, this should not be taken as a definitive statement. In the third quarter of 1999, real GDP grew by 3 percent according to the new method of calculation, which corresponds to a seasonally adjusted growth of 1.7 percent over the previous quarter. Compared with the first half of 1999, this represents a considerable acceleration of economic activity. Following the slow-down of growth in the wake of the Asian crisis and the economic turmoil of the summer of 1998, a recovery set in at the beginning of 1999 and continued to gain momentum in the course of the year. To a significant extent, the recovery was attributable to consumer demand from private households. The good third-quarter result, however, was mainly due to the rising demand for capital goods, which exceeded the previous year's level by 3.5 percent in real terms. After a phase of sluggish activity in mid 1998, exports began to pick up again strongly in the second quarter of 1999. While real exports of manufactured goods were approx. 5 percent above the previous year's level as of the beginning of the year, exports of services (excluding tourism) clearly failed to match the previous year's performance. Income from tourist travel exports increased quarter over quarter and exceeded the previous year's level by almost 11 percent in the third quarter of 1999. Strong domestic demand for consumer and capital goods led to a rapid expansion of goods imports by 6 percent in the first half and 10 percent in the third quarter of 1999. Imports of services did not grow to any significant extent, and tourist travel imports even declined noticeably, as many Austrian spent their holidays in Austria rather than abroad.

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Article provided by WIFO in its journal WIFO-Monatsberichte.

Volume (Year): 73 (2000)
Issue (Month): 3 (March)
Pages: 171-179

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Handle: RePEc:wfo:monber:y:2000:i:3:p:171-179
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