News Release: U.S. International Transactions

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EMBARGOED UNTIL RELEASE AT 8:30 A.M. EDT, Thursday, March 17, 2016
BEA 16—14


Thomas Anderson: (202) 606-9879 (Data)
U.S. International Transactions: Fourth Quarter and Year 2015


                                         Current Account

      The U.S. current-account deficit—a net measure of transactions between the United States
and the rest of the world in goods, services, primary income (investment income and
compensation), and secondary income (current transfers)—decreased to $125.3 billion
(preliminary) in the fourth quarter of 2015 from $129.9 billion (revised) in the third quarter.
The deficit decreased to 2.8 percent of current-dollar gross domestic product (GDP) from 2.9
percent in the third quarter. The decrease in the current-account deficit was accounted for by
decreases in the deficits on goods and secondary income and an increase in the surplus on
services. These changes were partly offset by a decrease in the surplus on primary income.


_______________________________________________________________________________________________

    Notice About the 2016 Annual Revision of the U.S. International Transactions Accounts

The annual revision of the U.S. international transactions accounts will be released along with
preliminary estimates for the first quarter of 2016 on June 16, 2016. An article previewing
the annual revisions will appear in the April 2016 issue of the Survey of Current Business.
_______________________________________________________________________________________________


Goods and services

      The deficit on goods and services decreased to $133.7 billion in the fourth quarter from
$138.6 billion in the third quarter.

      Goods

      The deficit on goods decreased to $187.3 billion in the fourth quarter from $190.5
billion in the third quarter.

      Goods exports decreased to $366.7 billion from $379.4 billion. Exports decreased in four
of the six major general-merchandise end-use categories and in nonmonetary gold. The largest
decrease was in industrial supplies and materials and was largely due to decreases in petroleum
and products and in chemicals except medicinals. Exports also decreased in foods, feeds, and
beverages, in capital goods except automotive, and in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines.
The decrease in foods, feeds, and beverages mostly reflected a decrease in grains and
preparations, primarily corn. The decrease in capital goods except automotive mostly reflected
the net effect of a decrease in machinery and equipment except consumer-type and an increase in
civilian aircraft, engines, and parts. The decrease in automotive vehicles, parts, and engines
was more than accounted for by a decrease in exports of passenger cars (ITA Table 2.1).

      Goods imports decreased to $553.9 billion from $570.0 billion. Imports decreased in five
of the six major general-merchandise end-use categories and in nonmonetary gold. The largest
decrease— which accounted for more than two-thirds of the total decrease in goods imports—was
in industrial supplies and materials; the decrease mostly reflected a decrease in petroleum and
products. Imports also decreased in consumer goods except food and automotive, reflecting
decreases in both durable and nondurable goods. In nondurable goods, the largest decrease was
in apparel, footwear, and household goods (ITA Table 2.1).

      Services

      The surplus on services increased to $53.5 billion in the fourth quarter from $51.9
billion in the third quarter.

      Services exports increased to $177.7 billion from $175.9 billion. Exports increased in
seven of the nine major services categories. The largest increases were in financial services,
in maintenance and repair services, and in other business services. The increase in financial
services was largely due to an increase in financial management, financial advisory, and
custody services. The increase in other business services was largely due to an increase in
professional and management consulting services (ITA Table 3.1).

      Services imports increased to $124.1 billion from $123.9 billion. Imports increased in
four of the nine major services categories. The largest increases were in travel (for all
purposes including education), reflecting increases in both business and personal travel, and
in other business services. The largest decrease was in insurance services (ITA Table 3.1).

Primary income

      The surplus on primary income decreased to $42.8 billion in the fourth quarter from $45.4
billion in the third quarter.

      Investment income

      Income receipts from foreigners on U.S. holdings of financial assets abroad decreased to
$190.0 billion from $195.7 billion (ITA Table 4.1). The decrease was
primarily accounted for by a decrease in direct investment income on equity from foreign
affiliates of U.S. parent companies, especially holding company affiliates, and a decrease in
portfolio investment income on equity and investment fund shares (ITA Table 4.2 and ITA Table 4.3).

      Income payments to foreigners on U.S. liabilities decreased to $144.6 billion from $147.8
billion (ITA Table 4.1). Direct investment income payments to foreigners decreased, especially in 
manufacturing (ITA Table 4.2). Portfolio investment income payments also decreased. Income on 
equity and investment fund shares decreased, and interest on debt securities increased (ITA Table 4.3).

      Compensation of employees

      Receipts for compensation of U.S. residents paid by nonresidents were nearly unchanged at
$1.8 billion in the fourth quarter. Payments for compensation of foreign residents paid by U.S.
residents increased to $4.4 billion from $4.3 billion.

Secondary income (current transfers)

      The deficit on secondary income decreased to $34.3 billion in the fourth quarter from
$36.7 billion in the third quarter. Secondary income receipts and payments include U.S.
government and private transfers, such as U.S. government grants and pensions, fines and
penalties, withholding taxes, personal transfers (remittances), insurance-related transfers,
and other current transfers.

      Secondary income receipts increased to $32.5 billion from $32.0 billion. The increase was
accounted for by increases in both U.S. government transfers and private transfers, primarily
insurance-related transfers (ITA Table 5.1).

      Secondary income payments decreased to $66.9 billion from $68.7 billion. The decrease was
more than accounted for a decrease in U.S. government grants to foreigners (ITA Table 5.1).

                                        Financial Account

      Net U.S. borrowing measured by financial-account transactions was $29.4 billion in the
fourth quarter, down from $59.5 billion in the third quarter. Both net U.S. sales of financial
assets excluding financial derivatives and net U.S. repayment of liabilities to foreigners
excluding financial derivatives increased in the fourth quarter, but the repayment of
liabilities increased more. In addition, net transactions in financial derivatives other than
reserves reflected more net lending than in the third quarter.

Net U.S. acquisition of financial assets excluding financial derivatives

      Net U.S. sales of financial assets excluding financial derivatives were $126.1 billion in
the fourth quarter, up from $95.9 billion in the third quarter.

      Direct investment assets (equity and debt instruments)

      Net acquisition of direct investment assets was $101.9 billion in the fourth quarter, up
from $67.8 billion in the third quarter because of a shift to net acquisition of debt
instruments by both U.S. parent companies and U.S. affiliates of foreign parent companies (ITA
Table 6.1).

      Portfolio investment assets (equity and investment fund shares and debt securities)  Net
U.S. sales of portfolio investment assets abroad were $108.9 billion in the fourth quarter,
down from $111.3 billion in the third quarter. The decrease was more than accounted for by a
decrease in net sales of equity and investment fund shares to $52.0 billion in the fourth
quarter, down from $61.4 billion in the third quarter. The decrease in net sales of equity and
investment funds shares was partly offset by an increase in net sales of debt securities to
$56.9 billion in the fourth quarter, up from $49.9 billion in the third quarter (ITA Table 7.1).

      Other investment assets (currency and deposits, loans, insurance technical reserves, and
trade credit and advances)

      Transactions decreased other investment assets abroad by $118.1 billion in the fourth
quarter after decreasing them by $52.1 billion in the third quarter. The fourth-quarter
decrease was larger because of a shift to net repayment of loans from third-quarter net
provision of loans (ITA Table 8.1).

      Reserve assets

      Transactions in U.S. reserve assets decreased holdings by $1.0 billion in the fourth
quarter, after decreasing holdings by $0.3 billion in the third quarter. The decreases in both
quarters reflected decreases in the U.S. reserve position in the International Monetary Fund.

Net U.S. incurrence of liabilities excluding financial derivatives

      Net U.S. repayment of liabilities to foreigners excluding financial derivatives was $84.4
billion in the fourth quarter, up from $35.7 billion in the third quarter.

      Direct investment liabilities (equity and debt instruments)

      Net incurrence of direct investment liabilities to foreigners was $58.9 billion in the
fourth quarter, up from $49.1 billion in the third quarter. The increase was more than
accounted for by an increase in net foreign-parent equity investment other than reinvestment of
earnings. Net incurrence of debt instrument liabilities decreased (ITA Table 6.1).

      Portfolio investment liabilities (equity and investment fund shares and debt securities)

      Net U.S. incurrence of portfolio investment liabilities to foreigners was $17.1 billion
in the fourth quarter, a shift from net repayment of $117.0 billion in the third quarter. Net
foreign sales of U.S. equity and investment fund shares were $158.5 billion in the fourth
quarter, up from $30.4 billion in the third quarter. Net foreign purchases of U.S. debt
securities were $175.6 billion in the fourth quarter, a shift from net sales of $86.6 billion
in the third quarter (ITA Table 7.1).

      Other investment liabilities (currency and deposits, loans, insurance technical reserves,
trade credit and advances, and special drawing rights allocations)  Net U.S. repayment of other
investment liabilities to foreigners was $160.4 billion in the fourth quarter, a shift from net
incurrence of $32.2 billion in the third quarter. The shift was more than accounted for by a
shift to net repayment of loan liabilities (ITA Table 8.1).

Financial derivatives other than reserves

      Net transactions in financial derivatives other than reserves were $12.3 billion in the
fourth quarter, representing net lending. This was an increase from net lending of $0.7 billion
in the third quarter. Transactions in financial derivatives are only available as a net value
equal to transactions for assets less transactions for liabilities. A positive value represents
net cash payments by U.S. residents to foreign residents from settlements of derivatives
contracts (net lending) and a negative value represents net U.S. cash receipts (net borrowing).

                                    Statistical Discrepancy

      The statistical discrepancy is the difference between net acquisition of assets and net
incurrence of liabilities in the financial account (including financial derivatives) less the
difference between total credits and total debits recorded in the current and capital accounts.
The statistical discrepancy was $95.9 billion in the fourth quarter compared with $70.4 billion
in the third quarter.

                                    *          *          *

      In the fourth quarter, the U.S. dollar appreciated 1.4 percent on a trade-weighted basis
against a group of 7 major currencies, after appreciating 2.0 percent on the same basis in the
third quarter. Exchange rate data are based on Federal Reserve Statistical Release H.10.

                                    *          *          *

                                         The Year 2015

                                        Current Account

      The U.S. current-account deficit increased to $484.1 billion (preliminary) in 2015 from
$389.5 billion in 2014. The deficit was 2.7 percent of current-dollar GDP in 2015, up from 2.2
percent in 2014.

Goods and services

      The deficit on goods and services increased to $539.8 billion in 2015 from $508.3 billion
in 2014.

      Goods

      The deficit on goods increased to $759.3 billion in 2015 from $741.5 billion in 2014.

      Goods exports decreased to $1,513.5 billion from $1,632.6 billion, the first decrease
since 2009. The largest decrease—which accounted for more than two-thirds of the total decrease
in goods exports—was in industrial supplies and materials. The decrease was mainly due to a
decrease in petroleum and products (ITA Table 2.1).

      Goods imports decreased to $2,272.8 billion from $2,374.1 billion. A decrease in
industrial supplies and materials was partly offset by increases in the other five major
general-merchandise end-use categories. The decrease in industrial supplies and materials
largely reflected a decrease in imports of petroleum and products. The largest increase was in
consumer goods except food and automotive, followed by automotive vehicles, parts, and
engines. Much of the increase in consumer goods except food and automotive was in nondurable
goods, mainly medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical products (ITA Table 2.1).

      Services

      The surplus on services decreased to $219.6 billion in 2015 from $233.1 billion in 2014.

      Services exports decreased to $710.2 billion from $710.6 billion. The largest decreases
were in transport and in charges for the use of intellectual property. The decrease in
transport was more than accounted for by a decrease in air transport. The largest increase was
in other business services, primarily in professional and management consulting services (ITA
Table 3.1).

      Services imports increased to $490.6 billion from $477.4 billion. The largest increase
was in travel (for all purposes including education), specifically in personal travel. The
largest decrease was in charges for the use of intellectual property, primarily in charges for
the use of industrial processes (ITA Table 3.1).

Primary income

      The surplus on primary income decreased to $191.3 billion in 2015 from $238.0 billion in
2014.

      Investment income

      Income receipts from foreigners on U.S. holdings of financial assets abroad decreased to
$776.0 billion from $816.4 billion (ITA Table 4.1).  The decrease was more than accounted for by 
a decrease in direct investment income, which reflected a decrease in earnings of foreign 
affiliates of U.S. parent companies (ITA Table 4.2).  Portfolio investment income receipts increased, 
partly offsetting the decrease in direct investment income receipts. The increase in portfolio 
investment income receipts was accounted for by increases in income on equity and investment fund 
shares and in interest on debt securities (ITA Table 4.3).

      Income payments to foreigners on U.S. liabilities increased to $574.5 billion from $569.0
billion (ITA Table 4.1).
The increase primarily reflected an increase in portfolio investment income payments, both
interest on debt securities and income on equity and investment fund shares (ITA Table 4.3). 
Direct investment income payments decreased (ITA Table 4.2).

      Compensation of employees

      Receipts for compensation of U.S. residents paid by nonresidents increased to $7.1
billion from $6.9 billion. Payments for compensation of foreign residents paid by U.S.
residents increased to $17.3 billion from $16.3 billion.

Secondary income (current transfers)

      The deficit on secondary income increased to $135.6 billion in 2015 from $119.2 billion
in 2014.

      Secondary income receipts decreased to $132.0 billion from $140.0 billion; the decrease
was more than accounted for by a decrease in transfers to the U.S. government, primarily fines
and penalties paid by foreign residents (ITA Table 5.1).

      Secondary income payments increased to $267.6 billion from $259.2 billion; the increase
was primarily accounted for by an increase in private transfers, primarily insurance-related
transfers (ITA Table 5.1).

                                        Financial Account

      Net U.S. borrowing measured by financial-account transactions was $209.2 billion in 2015,
down from $239.6 billion in 2014. Net U.S. acquisition of financial assets excluding financial
derivatives and net U.S. incurrence of liabilities excluding financial derivatives decreased by
similar amounts in 2015. A decrease in net borrowing accounted for by transactions in financial
derivatives other than reserves of $29.0 billion was responsible for most of the decrease in
net borrowing measured by financial-account transactions in 2015.

Net U.S. acquisition of financial assets excluding financial derivatives

      Net U.S. acquisition of financial assets excluding financial derivatives was $242.2
billion in 2015, down from $792.1 billion in 2014.

      Direct investment assets (equity and debt instruments)

      Net acquisition of direct investment assets was $345.1 billion in 2015, down from $357.2
billion in 2014. The decrease was accounted for by a decrease in U.S. parents’ reinvestment of
earnings in their foreign affiliates that was partly offset by an increase in net acquisition
of debt instruments (ITA Table 6.1).

      Portfolio investment assets (equity and investment fund shares and debt securities)

      Net U.S. acquisition of portfolio investment assets abroad was $186.3 billion in 2015,
down from $538.1 billion in 2014. The decrease was primarily accounted for by a decrease in
net U.S. acquisition of equity and investment fund shares. Net U.S. acquisition of debt
securities also decreased.  Holdings of long-term corporate bonds and notes declined (ITA
Table 7.1).

      Other investment assets (currency and deposits, loans, insurance technical reserves, and
trade credit and advances)

      Transactions decreased other investment assets abroad by $282.9 billion in 2015 after
decreasing them by $99.5 billion in 2014. The 2015 decrease was larger mainly because of a
shift to net repayment of loans. Net withdrawal of deposits abroad also increased (ITA Table
8.1).

      Reserve assets

      Transactions in U.S. reserve assets decreased holdings by $6.3 billion in 2015, after
decreasing holdings by $3.6 billion in 2014. The decreases in both years were more than
accounted for by decreases in the U.S. reserve position in the International Monetary Fund.

Net U.S. incurrence of liabilities excluding financial derivatives

      Net U.S. incurrence of liabilities to foreigners excluding financial derivatives was
$426.0 billion in 2015, down from $977.4 billion in 2014.

      Direct investment liabilities (equity and debt instruments)

      Net incurrence of direct investment liabilities to foreigners was $409.9 billion in 2015,
up from $131.8 billion in 2014. The increase was largely accounted for by a shift to net
foreign-parent equity investment other than reinvestment of earnings (ITA Table 6.1).

      Portfolio investment liabilities (equity and investment fund shares and debt securities)

      Net U.S. incurrence of portfolio investment liabilities to foreigners was $263.4 billion
in 2015, down from $705.0 billion in 2014. Net foreign sales of U.S. equity and investment
fund shares were $171.3 billion, a shift from net foreign purchases of $155.1 billion in 2014.
Net foreign purchases of U.S. debt securities were $434.6 billion, down from $550.0 billion
(ITA Table 7.1).

      Other investment liabilities (currency and deposits, loans, insurance technical reserves,
trade credit and advances, and special drawing rights allocations)

      Net U.S. repayment of other investment liabilities to foreigners was $247.2 billion in
2015, a shift from net incurrence of $140.6 billion in 2014. The shift reflected a shift from
net incurrence to net repayment of loans from foreign residents (ITA Table 8.1).

Financial derivatives other than reserves

      Net transactions in financial derivatives other than reserves were –$25.4 billion in
2015, representing net borrowing, a decrease from net borrowing of $54.3 billion in 2014.
Transactions in financial derivatives are only available as a net value equal to transactions
for assets less transactions for liabilities. A positive value represents net cash payments by
U.S. residents to foreign residents from settlements of derivatives contracts (net lending)
and a negative value represents net U.S. cash receipts (net borrowing).

                                    Statistical Discrepancy

      The statistical discrepancy was $274.9 billion in 2015 compared with $149.9 billion in
2014.

                                    *          *          *

      In 2015, the U.S. dollar appreciated 16.2 percent on a trade-weighted basis against a
group of 7 major currencies. In 2014, the U.S. dollar appreciated 3.3 percent on the same
basis. Exchange rate data are based on Federal Reserve Statistical Release H.10.

                                           Revisions

      Statistics for the first three quarters of 2015 were revised to reflect revised seasonal
adjustments and newly available and revised source data for the third quarter.


                      Preliminary and Revised Third-Quarter 2015 Statistics
                            [Billions of dollars, seasonally adjusted]

                                                         Preliminary                   Revised
      Balance on goods.................................       –190.0                    –190.5
      Balance on services..............................         56.3                      51.9
      Balance on primary income........................         46.1                      45.4
      Balance on secondary income (current transfers)..        –36.6                     –36.7
      Balance on current account.......................       –124.1                    –129.9
      Net U.S. sales of financial assets excluding
          financial derivatives........................         89.9                      95.9
      Net U.S. repayment of liabilities excluding
          financial derivatives........................         64.6                      35.7
      Net borrowing from financial-account
          transactions.................................         24.7                      59.5

                                    *          *          *

      Release dates in 2016:

      Fourth Quarter and Year 2015....................................March 17, 2016 (Thursday)
      First Quarter 2016 and Annual Revisions..........................June 16, 2016 (Thursday)
      Second Quarter 2016.........................................September 15, 2016 (Thursday)
      Third Quarter 2016...........................................December 15, 2016 (Thursday)

                                    *          *          *

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BUSINESS; and BEA news releases are available without charge on BEA’s Web site at www.bea.gov.
At the site, you can also subscribe to receive free e-mail summaries of BEA releases and
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________________

NOTE: This news release is available on BEA's Web site  along with Highlights related to this 
release, the latest detailed statistics for U.S. international transactions, and 
a description of the estimation methods used to compile them. The fourth-quarter
statistics in this release are preliminary and will be revised on June 16, 2016. All links in
the text of this release—including archived versions of this release—refer to the latest
available statistics.