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DATA SNAP: Euro-Zone Government Debt Falls, But Rises In Bailout Members
Data: 06/02/2012 @ 11:31
The combined debt of the 17 euro-zone governments fell as a percentage of economic output in the third quarter of 2011, although it rose in all three members that have been forced to seek a bailout.
That underscores the difficulty of cutting debt levels through austerity programs that slow growth and take time to eliminate still high budget deficits.
However, Italy's debt fell as a proportion of gross domestic product
, while Spain's government debt was unchanged. In the broader EU, Hungary's government debt rose sharply, while that of the U.K. also increased.
In its first quarterly publication of government debt figures, the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat said the combined debt of the 17 euro-zone governments was 87.4% of GDP at the end of the third quarter, down from 87.7% at the end of the second quarter, but up from 83.2% at the end of the third quarter of 2010.
There were very wide variations between individual members. While Estonia's government had a debt equal to 6.1% of GDP, Greece's government had a debt equal to 159.1% of GDP, up from 154.7% in the second quarter, and 138.8% in the third quarter of 2010.
That surge in Greek debt helps explain why the EU and the International Monetary Fund have insisted on a write-down of the amounts owed to bond holders as a condition of a second bailout package.
Investors have become worried that a similar write down will be needed to return Portugal to a sustainable debt path. At 110.1% of GDP, its government debts were well below those of Greece, but have also risen sharply, from 106.5% of GDP in the second quarter and 91.2% in the third quarter of 2010.
Like Greece and Portugal, the Irish government relies on funding from the EU and the IMF. Its debt also rose, to 104.9% of GDP from 102.3% in the second quarter and 88.4% of GDP in the third quarter of 2010.
Outside the euro zone, Hungary's government debt rose to 82.6% of GDP from 77.7% in the second quarter and 82.4% in the third quarter of 2010, while the U.K.'s government debt rose to 85.2% of GDP from 83.9% in the second quarter and 78.3% of GDP in the third quarter of 2010.
-Paul Hannon; Dow Jones Newswires; +44 20 7842 9491; firstname.lastname@example.org