Historical Data and Methodology



This Guide to the BIS statistics on international banking was prepared primarily for the use of the institutions which report these data to the BIS, but is now being made more generally available as an aid for users of the statistics. The Guide is intended to serve two main purposes: firstly, to provide reporting countries with definitions and guidelines for the reporting of data; secondly, to give a detailed account of current country practices regarding the coverage and disaggregation of the reported data. The Guide describes two statistical systems, the Quarterly Reporting System and the SemiAnnual Reporting System. It replaces the earlier one (February 1988) which was intended solely to provide a detailed description of reporting practices for users of the data.

In order to understand their design, the two statistical systems should be seen in relation to their historical development and the primary purposes they originally served. Thus, at the beginning of the 1970s, the main focus of the analysis was on the Euro-currency markets. This led to the introduction of reporting of banks' international positions in major individual currencies, with partial sectoral and geographical breakdowns only. In the subsequent years, the issue of recycling the oil surpluses and the accompanying rise in international indebtedness shifted the emphasis in favour of a more detailed geographical breakdown and of flow data. The outbreak of the debt crisis in the early 1980s stimulated further efforts to refine both the geographical coverage of the data and the estimates of exchange rate adjusted flows in the quarterly statistics. At the same time, the quarterly reporting system, being based on the location of reporting institutions, was deemed insufficient to assess the country-risk exposure of major individual nationality banking groups, as well as the maturity and sectoral composition of such claims. This led to the progressive introduction of the half-yearly consolidated reporting system. In the following years, the strong expansion of activity in international securities and derivatives instruments has also led the BIS to monitor more closely developments in these areas. More recently, a growing interest has arisen in the use of the BIS banking statistics to improve the coverage and accuracy of the recording of balance-of-payments transactions.

The Quarterly Reporting System, which is described in Part I, gathers data on banks' international assets and liabilities broken down by currency, sector and country. In this system, unconsolidated data are supplied by banking offices - both domestic and foreign-owned - located within reporting centres' borders (but not by their foreign affiliates operating outside the reporting area), both on a residence or balanceofpayments basis and on an ownership or nationality basis.

The Semi-annual Reporting System, which is described in Part II, focuses only on the asset side of banks' balance sheets. It covers data on banks' international lending activities broken down by maturity, sector and borrowing country on a worldwide consolidated basis. Banks with head offices in the reporting area are asked to provide this consolidated information for all their offices at home and abroad with positions between different offices of the same bank being netted out. However, affiliates within the reporting area of banks whose head offices are located outside the reporting area are requested to report data on their claims on an unconsolidated basis only; in other words, the international lending of the head offices of these banks or of their outsidearea affiliates is not covered by the statistics.

Part III of this Guide provides a glossary of terms used in the Quarterly and Semiannual Reporting Systems, while the final part contains a list of international institutions (Appendix 1) and of country groupings and official monetary institutions (Appendix 2).

The Guide has been prepared with the assistance of the central banks or official monetary institutions contributing to the two BIS-operated international banking statistical systems. The BIS is grateful to all these institutions for their cooperation and valuable advice in its preparation.