Some interesting insight into the legacy of the Great Recession that we are carrying over into 2015. From the start of 2008 through 2014:
- Average increase in gross debt of all advanced economies was 27.2 percentage points of GDP, with a range from a decrease of 21 percentage points for Norway and an increase of 88.5 percentage points for Ireland. Thus, the average annualised rate of increase in government debt over the period was around 3.47 percentage points of GDP with a range of -2.76 percentage points annualised decline for Norway and a 9.48 percentage points annualised increase in Ireland.
- Average change in the gross government debt of the group of countries where debt declined over the crisis was -12.0 percentage points of GDP. There were only 3 countries in this group.
- Average increase in gross government debt of the group of countries with benign levels of increase (levels of increase consistent roughly with offsetting GDP contraction over the crisis period) was 4.8 percentage points of GDP. There were only 5 countries in this group and only two of these were in Europe, with none (at the time of the crisis onset) being members of the euro area.
- Average increase in gross government debt within the group of countries where debt rises were moderately in excess of contraction in the economy was 16.4 percentage points of GDP.
- Average increase in gross government debt within the group of countries with debt increases significantly in excess of economic contraction was 26.6 percent of GDP.
- Average increase in the government debt within the group of countries with severe debt overhang was 60.4 percentage points of GDP, with a range of increases in this group between 41.6% for the U.S. at the lower end and 88.5% of GDP for Ireland at a higher end.
Chart above summarises these facts and also highlights the extent to which Ireland's government debt increases were out of line with experience in all other countries, including Greece and all other 'peripheral' economies.
The average rise in gross government debt across all peripheral economies 2008-2014 was 56.5 percentage points of GDP (excluding Ireland), which is more than 1/3 lower than that for Ireland. Our closest competitor to the dubious title of worst performing sovereign in terms of debt accumulation is Greece, which experienced a debt/GDP ratio increase almost 1/4 lower than Ireland.
And in case you wonder, our Government's net debt position is not much better: