The Central Bank compiles and processes statistics on the basis of Article 29 of the Act on the Central Bank of Iceland, no. 36/2001. The statistics form the foundation for the Bank’s assessment of important aspects of monetary policy and financial stability. In accordance with Article 35 of the Act, the Financial Supervisory Authority and Statistics Iceland also have access to the some of the data compiled by the Central Bank, based on a cooperation agreement between the institutions. However, the agreement does not give the institutions access to information on individuals. Information that can be traced to specific firms other than supervised financial institutions are accessible only to Statistics Iceland. The provisions of the cooperation agreement therefore apply only if there is a genuine need for the data and pressing arguments in favour of granting access to them.
The statistics are processed in accordance with international standards on statistical reporting, including those issued by the World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), Bank for International Settlements (BIS), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, European Central Bank (ECB), Eurostat (the EU statistical bureau), and the United Nations (UN). International standards define methodology, terminology, and presentation of statistics, and they provide guidelines for professional work habits, impartiality, and confidentiality in statistics processing. The purpose of the standards is to ensure international comparability of the statistics, both overall and with respect to data quality. The national accounts standards issued by the above institutions in 2009, the System of National Accounts 2008 (SNA 2008), is used as a basis for the other standards. The chart below shows the connections between the standards. In recent years, international institutions have placed emphasis on harmonising the terminology and classification systems used in international standards so as to enhance the comparability of statistics. Therefore, the standards are all linked and are largely consistent with the SNA 2008.
Preparation of Central Bank statistics is based primarily on the standards for national accounts, balance of payments and international investment position, and monetary and financial statistics. Balance of payments statistics are based also on standards providing detailed information on specific topics, such as foreign direct investment, securities, or foreign exchange reserves.
According to the national accounts standards, the economy is divided up into five overall sectors, plus the foreign sector, as the table below shows. Firms, institutions, and non-profit institutions are then classified together in a sector within the economy, based on their activities.
|S.11||Non-financial corporations: Institutional units that produce goods and non-financial services for sale in the market.|
|S.12||Financial corporations: Institutional units that produce financial services and act as financial intermediaries. Divided into nine sub-sectors.|
|S.13||General government: state and local authorities.|
|S.14||Households: One or more individuals who share the same living accommodation and consume certain types of goods and services collectively, namely housing and food.|
|S.15||Non-profit institutions serving households (NPISH): Institutional units that produce goods and services for households, either for free of charge or at a low price.|
|S.2||Rest of the world: Institutional units residing outside Iceland.|
Balance of payments
The quality of statistics depends on the data that can be collected on the topic concerned and the methods used to process them. It is of key importance that the regulatory framework support the institutions that prepare statistics, guarantee them professional and financial independence, and provide sufficient statutory authority for data compilation. The Central Bank places emphasis on following sound, recognised methodology in compiling data and preparing statistics. It stresses that the statistics must be reliable, impartial, and objective; that data processing be carried out according to defined procedures; and that the quality of the data be verified to the extent possible. Furthermore, the publication of statistics must be clear and user-friendly, the data must be easily accessible, and metadata must be available for all statistics.
There is always somewhat of a compromise between speedy publication of statistics and reliability of the data concerned. Quality assessments of statistics are conducted by the IMF and Eurostat.