Gross Fixed Capital Formation

Gross fixed capital formation is essentially net investment. It is a component of the Expenditure method of calculating GDP.

To be more precise Gross fixed capital formation measures the net increase in fixed capital.

Gross fixed capital formation includes spending on land improvements (fences, ditches, drains, and so on); plant, machinery, and equipment purchases; the construction of roads, railways, private residential dwellings, and commercial and industrial buildings. Disposal of fixed assets is taken away from the total.

gross-fixed-capital-formation-uk
Gross fixed capital formation – UK

The fall in Gross Fixed capital formation has been a significant contributor to the recent UK recession.  (contributions to UK growth)

Total Gross Fixed Capital Formation

gross-fixed-capita-formation-fredgraph

source: St Louis Fed

Investment is usually highly cyclical. (See: accelerator effect) The recessions of 1991 and 2008 saw a sharp fall in gross fixed capital formation. This is because if output falls, firms expect to make lower profits, therefore they start to think of cutting back output rather than increase it.

International Comparisons of Gross Fixed Capital Formation

Generally speaking, developing countries often devote a higher % of GDP to investment. Countries with rapid rates of economic growth are heavily investing in more fixed assets to enable rapid economic growth. China has one of the highest rates of gross fixed capital formation.

gross-f-c-f-country

China’s high rate of economic growth has been spurred by devoting a significant percent of resources to investment. Investment increases both aggregate demand, but also increases future productive capacity.

The UK and US economy are more geared towards consumption spending.

The global average for gross fixed capital formation is 20%

Some of the poorest countries, cannot afford investment, and so concentrate on current consumption. For example, at the height of the Zimbabwe crisis in 2008, investment fell to less than 3% of GDP.

Irish Investment

irish-gross-fixed-capital-formation

Irish investment is a mirror of their economic performance. After recovering from economic slowdown in the 1980s, the boom years saw rapid growth in investment. peaking at over 26% of GDP. However, with the onset of the credit crunch, investment has fallen to just 11% of GDP.

More on Definitions of Gross Fixed Capital Formation

Gross Fixed Capital Formation excludes

  • Land purchases
  • Effects of depreciation (referred to as consumption of capital)

The OECD define it as:

Gross fixed capital formation as defined by the European System of Accounts (ESA) consists of resident producers’ acquisitions, less disposals, of fixed assets during a given period plus certain additions to the value of non-produced assets realised by the productive activity of producer or institutional units. (OECD)

List of Countries Gross Fixed Capital Formation by % of GDP

Turkmenistan60
Mongolia48.6
China45.5
East Asia & Pacific (developing only)40.7
Belarus37.6
Cape Verde36.5
Lesotho34.9
Sri Lanka34.6
Liberia33.3
Indonesia32.4
Romania32.2
Vietnam31.9
Kosovo31.2
Armenia30.9
Senegal30.7
Morocco30.6
Lebanon30.0
Nicaragua29.7
India29.5
Upper middle income28.1
Tanzania28.1
Botswana27.9
Middle income27.6
Panama27.5
Low & middle income27.5
Lao PDR27.4
Benin27.4
South Asia27.3
Australia27.1
Namibia26.5
Bahamas, The26.0
Mauritania25.9
Thailand25.8
Lower middle income25.6
Other small states25.4
Serbia25.3
Gabon25.1
Albania24.9
Kyrgyz Republic24.8
Bangladesh24.7
Sudan24.7
Mauritius24.4
Uganda24.4
Mozambique24.3
Kenya24.3
Ecuador24.2
Tunisia24.0
Czech Republic23.9
Moldova23.9
Kazakhstan23.9
Peru23.8
Uzbekistan23.5
Congo, Rep.23.4
Singapore23.4
Bulgaria23.3
Chile23.2
Russian Federation23.1
Jamaica22.9
Europe & Central Asia (developing only)22.8
Argentina22.6
Slovak Republic22.4
Latvia22.4
Honduras22.2
Montenegro22.1
Croatia21.9
Colombia21.9
Ghana21.8
Spain21.7
Macedonia, FYR21.5
Estonia21.5
Paraguay21.3
Jordan21.3
Zambia21.3
Nepal21.2
Austria21.1
Belgium20.9
Malawi20.8
Bosnia and Herzegovina20.7
Sub-Saharan Africa (all income levels)20.4
Sub-Saharan Africa (developing only)20.4
Latin America & Caribbean (all income levels)20.4
Mexico20.4
Latin America & Caribbean (developing only)20.4
Norway20.2
France20.1
Turkey20.0
Costa Rica19.8
Italy19.5
Slovenia19.5
Egypt, Arab Rep.19.4
Togo19.4
Euro area19.3
Brazil19.3
Ukraine19.3
Finland19.2
Saudi Arabia19.0
Ethiopia19.0
Luxembourg19.0
Uruguay19.0
South Africa18.9
Europe & Central Asia (all income levels)18.7
Tajikistan18.7
Israel18.7
Netherlands18.6
European Union18.5
Sweden18.4
Burundi18.4
Germany18.2
Portugal18.1
Kuwait17.8
Lithuania17.6
Gambia, The17.5
Azerbaijan17.2
Georgia17.2
Denmark17.2
Venezuela, RB17.0
Hungary16.7
Dominican Republic16.7
Cote d’Ivoire16.4
Philippines15.8
Malta15.0
Sierra Leone14.9
Papua New Guinea14.8
Guatemala14.6
United Kingdom14.3
El Salvador14.2
Iceland14.1
Greece14.0
Macao SAR, China12.3
Pakistan11.8
Angola10.7
Swaziland10.4
Zimbabwe6.5

Source: World Bank