June 10, 2024
Vipin Arora Official Portrait
A blog from BEA Director Vipin Arora

Here is a fact that may surprise you: The Bureau of Economic Analysis conducts 17 surveys. Yes, the home of gross domestic product, personal consumption expenditure prices, and the current account is also in the big leagues when it comes to running surveys. Not just any surveys, but some of the most unique ones around—collecting information that ranges from direct investment and the activities of multinational enterprises (AMNEs) to U.S. international trade in services.

In fact, our involvement with data collection began in the 1920s. Those statistics reported the value of foreign commercial assets controlled by U.S. companies. Since then, there has been significant growth in direct investment, and in response, we have expanded data collection on the operations of U.S. parent companies and their foreign subsidiaries and started new surveys to collect similar data on the U.S. operations of foreign companies. The resulting direct investment and AMNE statistics—collected on seven different surveys—are the most detailed information on the activities of multinational enterprises available.

In contrast to our direct investment and AMNE statistics, our data collection on international trade in services is more recent. The mid-1980s, for example, saw the establishment of mandatory reporting for U.S. international trade in services. In the early 1990s, BEA began to produce monthly services statistics, enabling us and the Census Bureau to publish a joint monthly release on goods and services trade. Since that time, we have continually expanded our services trade statistics (we now have 10 different surveys), have improved timeliness, and have worked to ensure consistency with international guidelines.

While surveys may not be the first things that come to mind when you think of BEA, I hope you can see that they are a major part of what we do.