Friday 23 February 2018

National debt falls for first time since bailout

The site for the new Central Bank on Dublin's quays
The site for the new Central Bank on Dublin's quays
Donal O'Donovan

Donal O'Donovan

Official figures just released show the national debt fell in the last three months of 2013 for the first time since before the EU/IMF bailout.

Household debt across the economy also declined as consumers continue to repay more debt than they borrow.

The figures are contained in the Quarterly Financial Accounts released by the Central Bank yesterday.

The latest data shows that government liabilities increased by €396m to €231.6bn during the final three months of last year, but that was driven by a rise in the market value of the securities rather than increased borrowing.

However, Quarterly Government Debt (QGD), a standard measure for assessing indebtedness used by the EU, fell over the period.

The latest figures show QGD fell by €1.6bn to €202.9bn following bond redemptions, the first decline since the second quarter of 2010 – prior to the €67.5bn bailout deal struck in November that year.

The State's net financial wealth increased by €1.8bn over the last three months of last year, though the national debt still hugely outweighs the value of assets.

At household level, the total amount of debt in the economy fell by €2.4bn during the fourth quarter 2013.

The decline to €166bn works out at €36,203 per person. Household debt has been in decline since it peaked in 2008, as the level of new borrowing plummeted and many households have focused on repaying loans and mortgages.

Household debt sustainability improved in the period, mostly because debts are being repaid and also because some household incomes have improved. In contrast, the total debts owned by businesses increased.

Irish Independent

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