International Variables

This page covers topics related to international trade – the balance of payments and the exchange rate. We explain each concept and provide data on them for the UK and for some other countries.

Balance of Payments

Nations trade with each other in (a) goods and services and (b) financial assets (such as government bonds, shares) and real estate. The balance of payment summarises these transactions. Here we explain the meaning of the two broad components of the balance of payments and provide data on the UK and other countries.
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Exchange Rates

Countries who have different currencies and who trade with each other will need to swap currencies. The exchange rate is the rate at which they do so. This page explains how exchange rates are defined, and the difference between nominal and real exchange rates. It also explains the difference between fixed and floating exchange rates.
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Commentary – International Variables

The commentary reviews the behaviour of the current account in the UK and US over the last 60 years and that of other countries more recently. It also presents evidence on the behaviour of many countries’ exchange rates against the dollar, noting the recovery in the value of the US$ following the financial crisis.
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1. Selected countries’ Annual (1955-) Current Account of the Balance of Payments as % of GDP. Source: OECD, International Trade and Balance of Payments (BOP), Balance of Payments (MEI), Current Account Balance as % of GDP.

2. Selected countries’ Quarterly (1957q1-) Exchange Rates. Number of units of national currency equal to one US$ (monthly averages). Source: OECD, Finance, Monthly Finance Statistics, Exchange rates (USD, Monthly averages).

3. Selected Countries’ Annual (1995-) Index of the Volume of Exports and of Imports. Source: Eurostat

Data series
Variables: Selected countries’ Annual Current Account of the Balance of Payments as % of GDP. Selected countries’ Quarterly Exchange Rates against the US$

Download data
All the data series are available in Excel xlsx format: