Saturday, January 10, 2015

10/1/2015: Where did Europe's EUR3 trillion worth of debt go?

You know the Krugmanite meme… Euro area is doing everything wrong by not running larger deficits. But here is an uncomfortable reality: since 2007, Euro area countries have managed to increase their debt in excess of 60% of GDP by a staggering EUR3 trillion.

So here's the crux of the problem: where did all this money go?

We know in terms of geographic distribution:

EUR1.6 trillion of this debt increase went to the 'peripheral' countries, and EUR39.2 billion went to the Easter European members of the Euro area. EUR517 billion went to the 'core' economies. And a whooping EUR759.9 billion to France. Now, across the 'periphery' some 20-25% of the debt increase is attributable to the banks measures directly, but the rest is a mix of automatic stabilisers (e.g. increases in unemployment benefits due to higher unemployment) and old-fashioned Keynesian policies.

It might be that Euro area is not spending enough in the right areas of fiscal policy. But to make an argument that it is not spending enough across the board is bonkers. We have allocated some EUR3 trillion in borrowed spending and we will continue to run the debt up in 2015. And still there is no sign of growth on the horizon.

So, again, where is all this money going?

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