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Maximize analytical use of Public Sector Debt Statistics: D1-D4 matrix approach

Rubena Sukaj's picture
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The Financial Data Team of the Development Economics Data Group (DECDG) is pleased to announce the launch of our Online Quarterly Bulletin’s second edition, an e-newsletter spotlighting debt statistics news, trends, and events. The current issue features the following:

  • Organizing Public Sector Debt (QPSD) statistics to maximize their analytical use and international comparability
  • Bond Issuance by low- and middle-income countries in 2015
  • External debt trends for high-income countries in 20105
  • Debt statistics-related event summaries

One highlight in this edition is the introduction of the D1-D4 matrix, a cascading approach used to present the QPSD data. The primary aim of the QPSD initiative is to institute a standardized measure for each dimension of public sector debt. The QPSD database displays country data for the same set of debt instruments such as 1. debt securities, 2. loans, 3. currency and deposits, 4. Special Drawing Rights, 5. Other accounts payable, and 6. insurance, pensions, and standardized guarantee schemes for the following institutional sectors of the economy: 1) general government, (2) central government, (3) budgetary central government, (4) non-financial public corporations (5) financial public corporations, and (6) the total consolidated public sector debt.

While serious efforts have already been put in by countries in order to regularly participate and contribute to this initiative, participants find it challenging to report data for all instruments and institutional sectors of the economy. Such differences in reporting, which sometimes consist of only few debt instruments such as debt securities and loans, have made cross-country data comparison of total debt misleading.  

In order to enable users to make full use of the data that are available in the QPSD database and, at the same time, ensure that cross-country comparisons of indicators are coherent, the IMF, the OECD, and the World Bank have collaborated on defining a presentational debt matrix, referred to as D1-D4, that address the issue of inconsistent cross-country coverage of borrowing instruments.

D1-D4 matrix approach: standardizing international comparability of government and public sector debt data

The D1-D4 presentation classifies gross government debt and public sector debt into four categories, as defined in the 2012 IMF Staff Discussion Note: “What Lies Beneath: The Statistical Definition of Public Sector Debt”. Under this classification system, the coverage of instruments ranges from a narrow definition that includes only debt securities and loans (D1), to a fully comprehensive definition that covers all six types of instruments (D4), described above and defined in full detail in the PSDS Guide [PDF] and GFSM 2014 [PDF]. 

  • D1 comprises debt securities and loans, and constitutes the largest share of public debt.

  • D2 comprises all D1 instruments, plus Special Drawing Right (SDR) holdings and currency and deposits. In the majority of countries, these are held by the central bank and classified under the sector ‘financial public corporations.’

  • D3 includes other accounts payable (in addition to all instruments captured by D2), and provides an important indicator of crisis in periods of financial distress.

  • D4 covers all six debt instruments, including Insurance, Pensions and Standardized Guarantee Schemes (IPSGS), in addition to the indicators covered under D3. As evidenced by the recent financial crisis, IPSGS can pose a significant financial risk.

The below table illustrates how the D1-D4 categories are delineated: the area shaded in blue indicates which instruments are included in each category.

The D1-D4 matrix-based approach for the presentation of government and public sector debt data satisfies a dual objective. It provides users with the maximum level of transparency across all dimensions, and, in parallel, it allows countries that have agreed to report to the QPSD to assess their own reporting standards and level of disaggregation, relative to those of other QPSD reporters and against the internationally agreed standards.

D1-D4 indicators are calculated for both the general government and the central government for all quarters for which data are available. These indicators are part of the QPSD database and may be accessed through the pre-built reports. These are available at the World Bank's QPSD Debt Data portal. A detailed note on the methodology underpinning the country specific calculation rules and valuation methods is also available. The QPSD database may also be accessed through the World Bank's Data Bank Query Tool under “Quarterly Public Sector Debt”.

To read this second edition of the Online Quarterly Bulletin, visit .