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Invisible: Meaning in economics
Vinod Anand | 23 Feb 2012

Those 'invisible' items, such as financial services, included in the current balance of payments accounts, as distinct from physically visible import, exports and re-exports of goods.

IN THE U.K. balance of payments accounts, they include government grants to overseas countries and subscriptions to international organizations, net payments for shipping services, travel, royalties, commissions for banking and other services, transfers to or from overseas residents, interest, profits and dividends received by or from overseas residents.

The pattern of U.K. invisible earnings has changed in the post-Second World War period. The shipping account deteriorated into deficit as a result of a steady rise in the payments made to foreign ship-owners; the fact that the profits and interest earned by the U.K. did not keep pace with the increase in these payments made to foreigners together with the growth of U.K. government aid to other countries all contributed to a fall in the surplus on invisible account.

The result has been that this surplus became insufficient to give long-run support to the traditional deficit on visible account, and was a contributing factor to sterling devaluation in November 1967. However, there has been a recovery in the invisible balance since devaluation.