The boundary between valuables and financial assets in SNA 2008: why gold and Bitcoin raise similar questions and need common answers (ESCoE DP 2021-12)

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The boundary between valuables and financial assets in SNA 2008: why gold and Bitcoin raise similar questions and need common answers (ESCoE DP 2021-12)

By Sam Hayes-Morgan, Matt Hughes, Alison McCrae, Pete Lee, Perry Francis, Michael Lyon, Robert Kent-Smith, Matthew Steel, Abi Casey

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The arrival of new crypto-assets presents a new challenge to national accounts, but importantly gold presents several clear similarities. Both are highly liquid, demonstrating volatile quantities of trade and prices, but do not have a corresponding liability. At the current time under SNA08, non-monetary gold is treated as a Valuable, as a produced non- financial asset. During the process of developing propositions for updating the SNA it was proposed that crypto-assets without corresponding liability should be classified in the same way. The debate of whether this is the correct treatment is ongoing.

This paper steps back and outline the full range of alternatives available to national accountants and discusses these in depth to allow wider consideration of the trade-offs involved, and illustrates further solutions which may better resolve some of the key issues, including existing practical challenges caused by the growing volume of speculative and hedging trades in gold.

‘The devil is in the detail: where to include gold and crypto-currencies in our statistics’ by Richard Heys (ONS National Statistical blog)