The balance of payments is a statement that aggregates the transactions between a country and the rest of the world over a period of time. This statement is comprised of the following accounts:
The current account. Summarizes trade in goods and services, plus transfer payments and investment income.
The capital account. Summarizes purchases and sales of investments, usually involving financial instruments.
The economic policies adopted by a government can impact the balance of payments, so economists advise government leaders on how their proposed actions can trigger a change. For example, a policy designed to attract foreign investment will increase transfers into the country, which alters its balance of payments.