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Issue 31. Costs of ownership transfer of valuables
and non-produced assets

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Description of the issue
The SNA draws a distinction between the costs of ownership transfer incurred in acquiring and disposing of non-financial assets on the one hand and financial assets on the other. Costs of ownership transfer incurred on transactions in non-financial assets are recorded as gross fixed capital formation, while costs of ownership transfer incurred on transactions in financial assets are recorded as intermediate consumption. The rationale for the different treatments is that non-financial assets are used in production and the income generated from production needs to be sufficient to cover the costs of using those assets, including costs of ownership transfer. Financial assets are not used in production and are held as stores of value, to earn property income or in the expectation of holding gains. It is also common for the ownership of financial assets and liabilities to change hands rapidly.

Valuables are non-financial assets but they are held as stores of value and are not used in production. As such, they have more in common with financial assets than they do with other non-financial assets. Therefore, it is arguable that costs of ownership transfer on valuables should be recorded as intermediate consumption rather than, as at present, fixed capital formation.

Costs of ownership transfer on fixed assets are not recorded separately but are added to the price paid by the purchaser and subtracted from the price received by the seller to obtain the acquisition and disposal values, respectively. The costs of ownership transfer on non-produced assets are recorded in a separate category of gross fixed capital formation. An exception is made in the case of land where costs of ownership transfer are treated by convention as land improvements.

An overview and rationalization of these practices could be helpful.
Discussions on the issue
The issue still needs to be addressed.

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