Quarterly Spanish National Accounts (QSNA) is a short-term synthesis statistical operation whose main objective is to provide a coherent quantitative behavioural description of the Spanish economy as a whole.
The most important utilities of this statistical operation are providing the base information for the design of economic policies, speeding up the supervision of the measures adopted by economic agents, detecting the stage of the economic cycle and increasing the quality of the short-term statistical system.
QSNA constitutes a sub-system of the Spanish National Accounts that is fully integrated methodologically and quantitatively:
The main aggregates within the Quarterly Spanish National Accounts are the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and its components from the perspectives of supply, demand and income as well as employment and some important aggregates regarding the current and capital accounts of the National Economy and Rest of the World.
QSNA estimates are carried out at current prices in terms of linked volume and average prices of the previous year, in terms of gross and adjusted seasonality and calendar effects.
Furthermore, auxiliary indicators are collected: contribution to GDP growth, productivity of the work factor, unit labour costs, pay per wage earner and wage-earner rate.
The classifications used are those that appear in the ESA-2010 manual:
In the case of the gross added value as well as employment and pay of wage earners, branches of activity are grouped and coded in reference to the National Classification of National Activities 2009 (CNAE-2009). Specifically, the gross added value breakdown published in the QSNA is the following (with Section of NACE):
Gross fixed capital formation is broken down by type of asset, following the AN_F6 classification in the following groups:
The final consumption expenditure is published according to the goods and services operations included in ESA-2010:
For operations related to foreign trade as well as exports and imports of goods and services, ESA-2010 distinguishes between:
Within this category, QSNA distinguishes the consumption expenditure of non-residents in the economic territory in the case of exports and the consumption expenditure of residents in the rest of the world in the case of imports.
Quarterly Spanish National Accounts cover all the economic activities included in the production boundary (in terms of ESA-2010) that are developed by every institutional unit that makes up the national economy.
Not included are domestic and personal services produced and consumed in the same household (except those produced by paid domestic staff and the rental services of dwellings occupied by their owners), volunteering activities in which no goods are produced and the purely natural processess which take place with no human intervention or direction.
The units and group of units used in Spanish National Accounts are defined based on the type of economic analysis to be carried out.
One of the basic units used by ESA 2010 is the institutional unit (IU) defined as an elementary economic decision-making centre, characterised by uniformity of behaviour and decision-making autonomy in the exercise of its main function. These units are grouped by institutional sectors (IS). They can for example be a household, an unincorporated company or a unit of the Public Administrations.
In practice, institutional units that produce goods and services usually carry out different activities at the same time. Therefore, for an effective analysis of the production process, these institutional units have to be divided from the production point of view into smaller and more homogenous units. This way, local kind-of-activity units (LKAU), that group into branches of activity (BA) and units of homogeneous producton (UHP) that group into homogenous branches (HB).
For further information see ESA-2010.
Spanish National Accounts combine the data coming from several different statistical sources. The concept of statistical population cannot be strictly applied in the context of Spanish National Accounts.
Quarterly Spanish National Accounts cover all the national territory.
The series length of the Quarterly Spanish National Accounts will depend on the reference base:
The evolution of quarterly aggregates measured at current prices may be divided into two components. One that reflects the evolution of the prices and the other movement in volume. The main purpose of the estimates at constant prices it to provide measurements of the economic activity in which the effect of price variation is eliminated.
When developing estimates at current prices, the main choice is the base year in which these estimates will be expressed. Fixed or mobile base.
Until change of base of reference year 2000, Spanish National Accounts have used a fixed base year for the calculation of its estimates at constant prices. This base year was updated every certain time, and all the temporary series available at current price and price of the new base year were displayed.
However, the modifications of the exchange structure during the base year that occur with the passing of time as a consequence of the changes in relative prices, technology, exchanged products, preferences etc. imply the loss of statistical significance and relevance of the fixed-base valuations.
A solution to the problem of losing relevance consists in checking the base with the same frequency with which the estimate is carried out. This way, in annual terms, the estimates are obtained at prices of the previous year. These estimates constitute the so called linkages. Thus, there would not only be one base year but on the contrary, it would change as the estimates change throughout time. This behaviour provides relevant estimates at constant prices, however, direct comparison can only be carried out between two consecutive years. The formation of a homogeneous series that represents the complete year sequence requires the linking of all linkages (that are developed by using the Laspeyres formula in the case of volume variations). The reference year is the year that defines the linked index scale (being 100), whereas the temporary base is mobile. There are as many bases as pairs of consecutive years, hence the linked valuation lacks of a fixed base (mobile base).
The application of this linked index methodology generates addititvity loss in linked volume measures as a consequence of the mathematical properties of the valuation system. However, this problem does not exist for the estimates corresponding to the reference years and the year immediately after, nor does it exist for the estimates at prices of the previous year. Furthermore, the possible inconveniences they may cause can be reduced by presenting in the aggregate the contribution that the components make to the exchange in the form of a percentage.
The linked volume measures in Annual Spanish National Accounting are stipulated according to the Decision of the European Commission No. 98/715 which establishes its obligatory nature in data transmission of the National Statistics Institute to the EU Statistics Office, Eurostat. Despite there is no equivalent legal framework for QSNA, for consistency reasons this new methodology has been adopted since its implementation in the Annual National Accounts (since May 2006, when publications started to have reference year 2000).
The real application of linked index to the quarterly aggregates (that is, substitution of the temporary annual reference period for a quarterly one) can cause serious problems: inconsistency between annual and quarterly indices and the distortion of the comparison between quarters. To solve this problem, annual information is incorporated in the development of quarterly linkages so as to eliminate elements that may lead to seasonality, also the concept of overlap is introduced. There are three techniques for linking quarterly indices, according to the period chosen as a reference to calculate each specific linkage of the series:
-Annual overlap, which uses the previous year (average of the four quarters) as the reference period for the calculation of the four linkages of the current period.
-One-quarter overlap, which uses the fourth quarter of the previous year as the reference period for the calculation of the four linkages of the current period.
-Over the year overlap: which uses the same quarter of the previous year as the reference period for the calculation of a linkage of the current period.
Quarterly Spanish National Accounts uses the annual overlap technique for building quarterly linked indices. The main advantage of this linking technique, which is used by Eurostat as well as by several member states, is that it provides linked quarterly indices that are coherent with the annual indices, that is, the average of the quarterly indices coincides with the annual index.
After the recent base change (November 2014), the reference year for volume linked indices is year 2010.
The units of measurement used in the QSNA are million euros for aggregates valued at current prices and number (in thousands) for employment variables, such as number of full-time equivalent jobs, number of hours worked, number of employees, etc.
The accounting period is the natural or calendar quarter.
The compilation and dissemination of the data are governed by the Statistical Law No. 12/1989 "Public Statistical Function" of May 9, 1989, and Law No. 4/1990 of June 29 on “National Budget of State for the year 1990" amended by Law No. 13/1996 "Fiscal, administrative and social measures" of December 30, 1996, makes compulsory all statistics included in the National Statistics Plan. The National Statistical Plan 2009-2012 was approved by the Royal Decree 1663/2008. It contains the statistics that must be developed in the four year period by the State General Administration's services or any other entity dependent on it. All statistics included in the National Statistics Plan are statistics for state purposes and are obligatory. The National Statistics Plan 2017-2020, approved by Royal Decree 410/2016, of 31 October, is the Plan currently implemented. This statistical operation has governmental purposes, and it is included in the National Statistics Plan 2017-2020. (Statistics of the State Administration).
Regulation (EU) no. nº 549/2013 of the Council, 21 May 2013, regarding the European System of National and Regional Accounts, contains the reference framework of common accounting concepts, definitions, classifications and norms intended for the development of National Accounts.
This regulation is available at: http://www.ine.es/normativa/leyes/UE/minine.htm#30019
There is not change of data with other institutions.
Quarterly Spanish National Accounts is a statistical operation included in the National Statistical Plan, which is therefore subject to the Law on the Public Statistical Function, 9 May 1989. As a result, its data is protected by Statistical Secrecy in all the stages of its development.
The data is disseminated quarterly.
Users of the quarterly accounts may access the data of base 2010 through the INE website: http://www.ine.es/jaxi/menu.do?type=pcaxis&path=%2Ft35%2Fp009&file=inebase&L=0. Specifically, the following sections appear.
· Press release: it contains a summary of the economic situation of the last quarter, paying special attention to the different components of GDP from the demand, supply and income perspectives. It also analyses the employment situation for the different branches of activity and other indicators.
-Main results: which include GDP estimates as well as its components from the three perspectives in linked volume indices and current terms, payment and employment (gross and adjusted) and the National Disposable Income for the quarters corresponding to the last three years.
· QSNA Base 2010. Series from quarter 1/1995 to the last published quarter: which includes the complete set of series published by QSNA.
The INE website also offers information related to other QSNA bases (base 2008, 2000, 1995 and 1986).
It is possible to access the series published by QSNA through the EUROSTAT database.
INEbase is the system the INE uses to store statistical information on the Internet. It contains all the information the INE produces in electronic formats. The primary organisation of the information follows the theme-based classification of the Inventory of Statistical Operations of the State General Administration . The basic unit of INEbase is the statistical operation, defined as the set of activities that lead to obtaining statistical results on a determined sector or subject based on the individually collected data. Also included in the scope of this definition are synthesis preparation.
Information about QSNA base 2010 can be obtained in the following link.
Because of the nature of the Spanish National Accounts, no microdata is available.
The "Handbook on Quarterly National Accounts" 2013 edition is available in the following link:
Quality Reports are developed following the Eurostat Regulation (CE) nº 223/2009 of the Council of 11th March 2009 related to European Statistics.
A chapter on revision analysis is included in the methodological manual of the CNTR published in the following link:
This methodological report also contains (fields 10.7 to 17), the elements of what it considers the "User-oriented quality report" for this operation."
The main objective of the quarterly accounts is to provide a comprehensive and understandable description of the behavior of a short-term economy. In this sense, there are numerous relationships of macroeconomic order between all the aggregates that make up the CNTR that are studied and contrasted every quarter by means of analysis and numerous controls.
On the other hand, as part of the National Accounts System of Spain, the CNTR complies with the principle of consistency with the other parts of the system, which gives it an additional level of solidity. This consistency is achieved in two ways: methodological and numerical:
In the last phase of the preparation of the CNTR, an overall assessment of all information is carried out, with numerous consistency and feasibility checks being carried out, among which the following stand out:
Finally, Eurostat has a complete validation system for all data that are sent on a quarterly basis, and which constitutes the CNTR.
In order to guarantee the strict application of ESA-2010 concepts, Spanish National Accounts are supervised periodically by Eurostat.
The CNTR is a synthesis short-term statistic, available with a reduced time lag, whose main objective is to provide a quantitative, global and coherent description of Spanish economic activity. Therefore, it facilitates the analysis and monitoring of short-term economic behavior in a continuous, complete and timely way and is a very useful tool for short-term economic policy decision-making and for monitoring of the measures taken by economic operators.
On the other hand, from January 2012 CNTR began to publish the Quarterly GDP Flash Estimate with a 30-day time lag after the end of the reference quarter, cutting the gap in 15 days. In this sense, the feasibility of publishing some other relevant aggregate with this lag is being analyzed.
Quarterly accounts arise from the need to obtain fast synthetic information about the behaviour of an economy which allows convenient decision-making in terms of Political Economy as well as speeding up the supervision of the adopted measures.
Furthermore, since the average period of the economic cycle generally does not coincide with the multiple of the years, economic cycle fluctuations are not captured appropriately with the annual estimates. For this reason, The Quarterly Spanish National Accounts are used by econometricians as a useful tool to detect the stage of the economic cycle.
Finally, as it is a synthesis statistic, QSNA allows identifying gaps and improvements in the Spanish short-term statistical system.
Among the main users of this statistic are:
The INE has carried out general user satisfaction surveys in 2007, 2010, 2013 and 2016 and it plans to continue doing so every three years. The purpose of these surveys is to find out what users think about the quality of the information of the INE statistics and the extent to which their needs of information are covered. In addition, additional surveys are carried out in order to acknowledge better other fields such as dissemination of the information, quality of some publications...
On the INE website, in its section Methods and Projects / Quality and Code of Practice / INE quality management / User surveys are available surveys conducted to date.(Click next link)
99.4% of the information required by Regulation (EU) No 549/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 May 2013 on the European System of National and Regional Accounts of the EU is provided.
In the methodological manual of the CNTR, published in the following link:
A chapter dedicated to the analysis of revisions is provided which provides useful information for the analysis of accuracy.
Since Quarterly National Accounts is a synthesis operation, the sampling errors that affect come from the sources from which the information is collected, which are analyzed to see if they are kept within reasonable limits. Therefore, direct measurement of accuracy in this case is not considered possible. The principal instrument for analyzing accuracy is the analysis of revisions (see paragraph 17.2).
Since Quarterly National Accounts is a synthesis operation, non-sampling errors may come from both the sources and the information processing in this operation (lack of coverage, process errors, measurement errors). Therefore, direct measurement of accuracy in this case is not considered possible. The principal instrument for analyzing accuracy is the analysis of revisions (see paragraph 17.2).
The advance estimate of GDP (annual and quarterly growth rate of adjusted quarterly seasonal and calendar GDP) is published 45 days after the end of the reference quarter at the latest, in compliance with the calendar agreed by Eurostat and the member states of the EU.
The complete estimate of QSNA is published 60 days after the termination of the reference period at the most, in compliance with the Regulation that regulates the transmission of data related to the National Accounts of the Statistical Institutes of the Member States of the EU to Eurostat (REGULATION (EU) No. 549/2013).
The results of the Quarterly Spanish National Accounts are published from time to time, in agreement with the the INE short-term statistical publication calendar.
The ESA-2010 methodology used by all member countries of the EU and the development of seasonal and calendar adjusted data allows comparing the estimates of quarterly accounts among each other.
In the current base 2010) homogeneous series are available from the first quarter of 1995 until the last quarter published. For example, until the fourth quarter of 2016 the length of the comparable time series is 88 quarters.
Quarterly Spanish National Accounts are coherent with the quarterly Accounts of the Public Administrations compiled by the General State Comptroller (IGAE), with the Foreign Trade statistics of the Customs Department and with the Payment Balance.
As previously mentioned, the quarterly estimates of all aggregates are temporarily consistent with the annual figures, within the price and volume measurement framework of ESA 2010. There is also consistency with Non-financial Accounts of Institutional Sectors.
Moreover, the macroeconomic representation offered by Quarterly Spanish National Accounts must ensure balance between resources and employment in the economy, as well as coherence between the main markets and macroeconomic-type elements (Goods and services market, Work Market, Foreign Sector, prices and wages, etc.).
In the 2018 Annual Program, the estimate of the necessary budget credit to finance this statistical operation is 294,41 thousand euros.
The workload for informants is non-existent since QSNA is compiled using the information provided by other statistics.
The INE of Spain has a policy which regulates the basic aspects of statistical data revision, seeking to ensure process transparency and product quality. This policy is laid out in the document approved by the INE board of directors on 13 March of 2015, which is available on the INE website, in the section "Methods and projects/Quality and Code of Practice/INE’s Quality management/INE’s Revision policy" (link).
This general policy sets the criteria that the different type of revisions should follow: routine revision- it is the case of statistics whose production process includes regular revisions-; more extensive revision- when methodological or basic reference source changes take place-; and exceptional revision- for instance, when an error appears in a published statistic-.
Quarterly Spanish National Accounts data is revised according to data revision schema of the Annual Spanish National Accounts. When Annual Spanish National Accounts revise their data once per year, Quarterly Spanish National Accounts publish quarterly series coherent with the new annual data series.
Moreover, the advance estimate of GDP published each quarter is revised a few days after, when all the corresponding short-term information is available and the complete accounts related to that quarter are compiled.
There are several factors that determine the revisions of QSNA estimates:
The first time quarterly data is published it is provisional. The final quarterly data is published every four years after the termination of the reference quarter (when the annual estimates are final).
In general terms, the practical way to proceed is the following:
When Annual National Accounts revise the series (once per year), these are incorporated in Quarterly National Accounts. As a consequence, there is a revision of the quarterly estimates corresponding to all quarters related to revised years as well as those corresponding to the quarters of the current year.
In the rest of publications only the quarters of the open year are subject to be revised.
The values of the indicators MAR and RMAR for the annual quarterly GDP rate in terms of volume (corrected for seasonal and calendar effects) for the period between the first quarter of 2014 and the third quarter of 2017 are:
° MAR: 0.10.
° RMAR: 0.04.
MAR is the absolute average size of revisions, where the revision is defined as the difference between the two estimates and the average extends to a number of revisions of the same data.
RMAR is the percentage of the average size of the revisions relative to the values of the revised estimates.
QSNA integrate and combines a great number of short-term economic information sources. There are two types of quantitative short-term statistical information:
The availability of different types of information conditions the amount of information that the quarterly accounts can provide (comprehensiveness and breakdowns) as well as the way in which these initial sources will be used. This makes it necessary to complement this statistical base data with the statistical and econometric procedures in the case of indirect information.
In Spain there is direct statistical quarterly information for the following aggregates:
For the rest of operations, the available short-term information is indirect so the corresponding quarterly aggregates are estimated based on the temporary breakdown of the annual aggregates based on the existing short-term information and using mathematical and statistical methods (indirect methods).
Among the indirect indicators used, the following shall be pointed out:
Monthly or quarterly, according to the nature of the short-term indicator.
Data is collected in different ways depending on the type of source, availability date of the data, etc.
Generally, the data is sent to the quarterly accounts units by the different units that compile the data. However, if the breakdown level is appropriate and the publishing date corresponds with the QSNA work scheme, in some occasions it is possible to obtain the information directly from the corresponding database.
Once the base indicators are selected, they are subjected to a series of treatments: identification of outliers, error filtering, prediction of missing data, adjustment to National Accounts terms...
The compilation process of QSNA may be structured in different stages:
1. Updating of indicators
the quality of the quarterly estimates obtained by indirect method depends greatly on the indicators. When selecting the basic indicators, the main criteria taken into account is: conceptual coherence with the annual aggregate to be indicated, correlation with that aggregate, quarterly frequency or higher, minimum time-lag, enough length, future availability, minimum prediction and statistical quality errors.
2. Univariate treatment of basic series
Once base indicators are updated, they are subjected to a series of treatments. As indicated in section 20.4, the main treatments consist in: identification of outliers, error filtering, prediction of missing data and adjustment to National Accounts terms.
3. Building synthetic indicators
Based on the series of basic indicators, the information is synthesized, this way obtaining a synthetic indicator (of value or volume and prices) for each aggregate and at the necessary breakdown level. The objective is to obtain more unhurried models in terms of parameter estimate. In order to design synthetic indicators, different techniques are used such as Factorial Analysis, Weighted Average, Main Components or Canonical Correlation.
4. Application of temporary breakdown procedures
Once there is a synthetic indicator for each aggregate(for variation in current terms and for volume evolution) temporary breakdown procedures are applied to the series of annual aggregates (mainly the general Chow and Lin method, 1971) so as to obtain the series of quarterly aggregates. This way, a first version is obtained of the quarterly estimates in current terms, at average prices of the pervious year and linked volume indices that are temporarily inconsistent with the annual estimates.
5. Balance and conciliation process of gross estimates
In order to solve supply-demand inconsistency problems and keep the temporary consistency and therefore obtain the almost-definite gross quarterly aggregates, the balance and conciliation process shall be carried out. This process has two stages:
The series of quarterly aggregates in gross terms of supply, demand and income, and employment that are obtained at the end of this stage will be definitive after the final viability study. This study also includes the adjusted seasonal and calendar quarterly series.
6. Application of signal extraction procedures
Each aggregate series obtained in the previous section is applied signal extraction procedures so as to obtain the series of adjusted seasonal and calendar quarterly aggregates.
The temporary series of the quarterly accounts may present seasonal fluctuations, that is, movements that appear recurrently with a similar intensity in the same season each year and are expected to continue appearing in the future. The nature of these effects is not associated with any relevant feature of the intrinsic behaviour of the aggregate and can avoid a clear signal of its evolution.
This way, in order to interpret the quarterly account data as best as possible, they must be adjusted from seasonal fluctuations. This will allow obtaining a series called seasonally adjusted series or deseasonalised series.
Furthermore, the temporary series of quarterly accounts are usually affected by the so called "calendar effects". They cover the periodic effects over a series which is directly or indirectly associated with specific calendar realities that are not part of the nature of the series itself and that may also distort the interpretation of the evolution of a macroeconomic operation.
Seasonal and calendar adjusted series will not show explainable repetitive movements but will reveal the "news" they contain, that is, trend and cycle changes as well as irregularities.
The Quarterly National Accounts publish the series of quarterly macroeconomic aggregates in their gross and adjusted form of seasonal and calendar effects. In both cases, there is temporary coherence with the annual aggregates as well as transversal coherence (supply/demand/income/employment).
The procedure of seasonal adjustment applied in QSNA, uses the signal extraction methodology based on ARIMA models (MBSE) implemented in programs TRAMO and SEATS (Gomez and Maravall, 1997) which is one of the procedures recommended by Eurostat. The applied procedures follow the recommendations included in the Handbook on Quarterly National Accounts (Eurostat, 1999) and in the final report of the work group about seasonal adjustment in Quarterly National Accounts (Eurostat and European Central Bank, 2008).
When using TRAMO-SEATS, the estimate of the underlying components in the temporary series is carried out in two stages. In the first stage, calendar effects are evaluated as well as the rest of deterministic effects by means of a regression analysis with ARIMA errors. In the second stage, the rest of components are estimated by applying Wiener-Kolmogorov filters to the corrected series of the calendar effects and deterministic effects (linear series).
Adjustment is carried out on quarterly series in gross terms and not on the indicators. The model is chosen once a year.
7. Balance and conciliation process of adjusted data.
The objective of this stage is to obtain temporary consistency and accounting balance of the adjusted quarterly series. To do so, proceed similarly to section 5. Once quantitative and transverse coherence of the adjusted data is obtained, it is subjected to a process of residual seasonal control.
8. Overall valuation of gross/adjusted data.
Finally there is an overall valuation of all the information (adjusted and non-adjusted quarterly aggregate series of supply, demand, income and employment in current and volume terms), and numerous coherence and viability controls are carried out.
The way to obtain an adjusted series of GDP is direct, that is, the signal of the aggregate is not obtained as the sum of the corresponding signals of its components but the signal extraction procedures are applied directly to the aggregate in gross terms. Afterwards, once each of the components is deseasonalised and adjusted at calendar effects, balance and conciliation procedures are applied so as to obtain consistent transversal and temporarily adjusted series.
Finally, following Eurostat recommendations, no adjustments are carried out due to the lack of additivity caused by the adoption of the linked index methodology for the measurement of variations in volume of the supply and demand aggregates.
For further information see the "Handbook on quarterly national accounts- 2013 edition", in the link: