Eurozone: What's behind the lower deficit and debt ratios in 2017?

5 min

Despite the -2.3pp decline in the annual public debt to GDP ratio to 86.7% in 2017 (the largest fall since the crisis), Eurozone public debt continued to increase in absolute terms, by +EUR84bn. The largest rises have been registered in France (EUR66bn), Italy (EUR44bn) and Spain (EUR37bn). However, lower average interest rates on debt and higher nominal GDP growth helped reduce the fiscal deficit by -EUR60bn or -0.6pp of GDP in 2017. At -0.9% of GDP, the Eurozone fiscal deficit was close to its 2007 ratio, with only Portugal (-3.0%) and Spain 

(-3.1%) still posting a deficit of -3% or more. Stronger GDP growth has also helped boost public revenues in 2017 (+0.1pp to 46.2% of GDP), the first increase since 2013, which along with the factors mentioned above caused the primary balance surplus to rise to +1.1% of GDP in 2017 from +0.6% in 2016. In 2018, we expect all Eurozone countries to meet the -3% Maastricht criterion, which would be the first time since the adoption of the Euro.