German general government debt down in 2019 by €16 billion to €2.05 trillion – debt ratio down from 61.9% to 59.8%

31.03.2020 | Deutsche Bundesbank DE

General government debt in Germany as defined in the Maastricht Treaty was down by €16 billion in 2019, amounting to €2.053 trillion at the end of the year. The debt ratio – the ratio of debt to nominal gross domestic product (GDP) – fell from 61.9% at the end of 2018 to 59.8%. GDP growth contributed 1.6 percentage points to this. The debt ratio thus decreased for the seventh time in succession. It also fell back below the Maastricht Treaty’s reference value of 60% for the first time since 2002.

All levels of government continued to report distinct surpluses in 2019. Central government used these for deleveraging. State governments, on the other hand, used their surpluses to accumulate financial assets, increasing their debt level. Local governments and the largely debt-free social security funds also used their surpluses for the primary purpose of further stocking up reserves.

The government-owned “bad banks” marginally reduced their debt. Support measures in favour of domestic financial institutions added €185 billion to the debt level at the end of 2019, which corresponds to 5.4 percentage points of the debt ratio. Assistance measures for euro area countries accounted for €88 billion (2.6 percentage points).

This year will see a sharp increase in general government debt due to the coronavirus pandemic. The debt ratio will again surge well above the 60% ceiling.

YearDept level ( billion)% of GDP

The EU Member States report data on the general government fiscal balance and on debt to the European Commission each year at the end of March and end of September – known as the SGP compliance report. To this end, the Federal Statistical Office calculates the balance and the Bundesbank the debt level.