25 Apr 2018

European Union Government debt now over €12.7 trillion

The latest figures for European Goverment Debt at the end of 2017 were published by Eurostat on the 23rd of April. You can download the data yourselves if you like from their site, but I've put the key figures on a publicly available Google Sheet Doc here.

The bottom line is that the governments of Europe now owe €12,739,296,000,000 (let's call that $12.7 trillion).

The table below gives the debt levels by country.

Four countries stand out by having each over €2 trillion in debt (Italy, France, Germany and the UK).

But in some ways this mainly reflects the fact that these four are the four largest countries.  I've therefore generated a second table, using the  latest population figures for 2018. that allows me to calculate per capita debt, as shown in the following table.

Interesting to see that Greece comes in 7th position, only just slightly higher than Germany.

The other fascinating set of data that Eurostat has just  made available concerns the interest payments on public sector debt for 2017. I've compiled all the data into one large table and included some information about the total interest payments since 1995, as well as how the level of debt has increased over the same period. The final column shows the percentage of the increase in debt due simply to interest charges.

Here, the bottom line is that European Union taxpayers effectively paid a total of nearly €304 billion in interest payments in 2017. I suppose that we should be grateful that this number has been dropping gradually over the past few years (it peaked at €366 billion in 2013). However, it is still an incredibly drain on all our governments.

The fact is that the total amount of interest payments since 1995 comes to an eye-watering €7.81 trillion. This figure is slightly underestimated because the figures from Eurostat are not complete - those for Bulgaria only started in 1997, and for Croatia and Denmark the numbers only start in 2000 (I've indicated this in the table by using red and orange text). 

What I find so impressive is that this number is almost exactly the same as the amount that government debt has increased over the same period, namely €7.88 trillion. 101% per of all the increase in debt is explained by those interest payments.

My conclusion? The so called European debt crisis is not because Governments have been spending too much on things like Education, Social Security, Health, Transport, Defense etc. The debt mountain is due to the stupid and unjustifiable interest payments that our governments are forced to pay to the banking sector and its allies. Cut off those payments, and our governments could function normally without going into debt.

The story is pretty much the same if we just talk about the 19 Eurozone countries. Here again, interest payments since 1995 have reached €6.18 trillion. That more than accounts for the increase in public sector debt.

Methinks it is time to change the system.

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