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Macro accounting describes the methods of accounting for a nation’s economic production. This is accomplished through combining the measurements of all vital factors related to economic vitality. Such factors include unemployment, national debt, gross national product, gross domestic product, consumer price indexes and other statistics that contribute to the development and performance of a nation’s economy. Also referred to as national accounting, macro accounting is carried out several times a year to gauge the economic health of a nation, often quarterly, but sometimes monthly, by government economists. These statistics are measured and subsequently released to the public as a measure of transparency and accountability to the private sector, while also used by government officials in various aspects of public administration.
Policy analysts are one core group of government officials that use the results of macro accounting for the purpose of understanding impacts of existing policy as well as to form a foundation of statistical data used in formulating new policy. Rather than having a long list of separate data sets, macro accounting presents those statistics in an aggregate format, which forms a complete picture when studied. Both the whole as well as its individual parts are important for policy analysts, particularly those involved in setting policy for economic and social issues. Understanding the statistical data sets and how they converge to provide a complete picture of the economy helps such analysts to establish policy that is most beneficial to the nation at the time.
International standards for macro accounting were first established by the United Nations in 1953 with the publication of its first version of the System of National Accounts (SNA) guidebook. Since 1953 the SNA has been revised on several occasions to reflect changing economic circumstances due to increasing globalization. All members of the United Nations use the SNA to prepare and report macro accounting statistics. The SNA also serves as a diagnostic manual for nations with distressed economies as well as helps aid in economic research and analysis due to its impact on national accounting standards. Students that take macro accounting courses in college will usually learn about the standards of SNA and how to apply them, among other important aspects of national accounting.
Other areas studied by students include how to measure the vital statistics that form macro accounting and how to understand new accounting theories that are designed to quantify typically qualitative issues, such as the impact of environmental factors on national economies. Important topics relevant to national economies are usually covered as well. Some of those areas may include conservation of natural resources and sustainable development.