The balance of payments (BOP) is a systematic record of a country’s receipts from, or payments to, other countries. In a way, it is like the balance sheets for businesses, only on a national level. The reference you see in the media to the

balance of trade

usually refer to goods within the goods and services category of the current account. It is also known as



“visible” trade

because it consists of tangibles such as foodstuffs, manufactured goods, and raw materials. “Services,” the other part of the category, is known as

“invisible” trade

and consists of intangibles such as interest or dividends, technology transfers, and others (e.g., insurance, transportation, financial). When the net result of both the current account and the capital account yields more credits than debits, the country is said to have a surplus in its balance of payments. When there are more debits than credits, the country has a deficit in the balance of payments. Exhibit 16 presents the components of each and their interrelationships. Data is collected by the U.S. Customs Service. Figures are reported in seasonally adjusted volumes and dollar amounts. It is the only nonsurvey, nonjudgmental report produced by the

Department of Commerce

. The balance of payments appears in

Survey of Current Business