• Balance of payments

    A statistical instrument that summarises, for a specific time period, the economic transactions of an economy with the rest of the world. The transactions considered are those involving goods, services and income; those involving financial claims on, and liabilities to, the rest of the world; and those (such as debt forgiveness) that are classified as transfers.

  • Balance sheet (Annual account)

    The balance sheet describes the company's assets at the end of the fiscal year. On the one hand you will find the property or the "assets" of a company. The latter for instance encompass the buildings, the vehicles, the stocks (raw materials and auxiliary materials, commodities), claims on customers, liquidities, etc. On the other hand there are the sources of finance or the "liabilities" of the company. Liabilities for instance refer to the capital contributed by the shareholders, the debts to credit institutions, suppliers, provisions built up in view of the anticipated expenses.

  • Bank for International Settlements (BIS)

    International financial institution whose primary aim is to promote cooperation between the central banks of the industrial countries. The BIS acts as the ‘bank of central banks’.

  • Banking union

    The banking union is an EU-level banking supervision and resolution system which operates on the basis of EU-wide rules. It is comprised of 3 main building blocks: (1) The single rulebook, (2) The single supervisory mechanism, (3) The single resolution mechanism. It aims to ensure that the banking sector in the euro area and the wider EU is safe and reliable and that non-viable banks are resolved without recourse to taxpayers' money and with minimal impact on the real economy.

  • Basle Committee on Banking Supervision

    The Basle Committee on Banking Supervision was set up in 1974 by the governors of the G10. It deals with questions concerning banking supervision, and in particular the capital requirements imposed on credit institutions.

  • Bearer Security

    A paper stock or bond. The owner is the person that has the security in his possession and the transfer of ownership takes place by simply handing over the security.

  • Belgian Treasury Bills, BTB

    Short-term dematerialised loans in euro or in foreign currency issued by the Belgian Treasury. They are related to the euro-denominated treasury certificates, but, unlike them, they can be issued continuously.

  • Benchmark

    In relation to investments, a benchmark is a reference portfolio or index constructed on the basis of the objectives for the liquidity and risk of, as well as the return on, the investments. The benchmark serves as a basis for comparison of the performance of the actual portfolio.

  • Bill of exchange

    The bill of exchange is a negotiable security signed and dated by its issuer (the drawer). It contains an unconditional order or instruction for the debtor (the drawee) to pay a fixed sum of money to a certain person or to their order upon maturity. If the debtor agrees to this, he accepts the bill of exchange by signing it. Its form, content and legal consequences are governed by law.

  • Bimetallism

    This monetary system based on the two metal standards, gold and silver, was in almost universal use until the mid 19th century. The discovery of substantial gold mines (California in 1848, Australia in 1851) and silver mines (in Nevada) caused excessive fluctuations in the value of these two metals. That disrupted the operation of the system, which was gradually abandoned.

  • Bond market

    The market on which medium and long-term debt securities, i.e. debt securities with an original maturity of more than one year, are issued and traded.

  • Bretton Woods

    In 1944, at the American holiday resort of Bretton Woods, in New Hampshire, the foundations were laid for an international monetary system. During World War II, the allies’ financial experts met there to prepare for peacetime financial conditions. The new system was intended to prevent the mismanagement of currencies, to devise a less rigid system than the gold standard, and to stabilise exchange rates. The new system was no longer based exclusively on gold, but on gold plus the US dollar. The system survived until the early 1970s when President Nixon decided to let the dollar float. The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are two institutions which were created at the Bretton Woods conference.