- 5 May 2021
- ECONOMIC BULLETIN - ARTICLEEconomic Bulletin Issue 3, 2021Details
- The experience of the last ten years shows that the composition of government debt plays an important role in several analytical and policy domains such as public debt management, financial stability and sovereign debt sustainability. Against this background, the article provides an overview of the evolution of the structure of public debt by holder in euro area countries and explores in more detail the structure of domestically held government debt with a special focus on households. In the first decade of EMU, the share of foreign holdings of euro area government debt, including both creditors from other euro area countries and creditors from outside the euro area, has been increasing owing to deepening financial integration. Following the global financial crisis and the euro area sovereign debt crisis, the share of domestic holdings increased again, first driven by holdings of banks and other financial corporations and, since 2015, mainly by central banks’ holdings. The role of households’ direct holdings of government debt is relatively limited at around 2% of total government debt in the euro area, although it is more sizeable in several euro area countries and in some other advanced economies. However, considering indirect holdings through investment funds, insurance corporations and pension funds, the share of households in financing government debt is more significant, albeit slightly decreasing over time, and amounted to almost 16% in the euro area in 2020.
- JEL Code
- H6 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt
H1 : Public Economics→Structure and Scope of Government
E21 : Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics→Consumption, Saving, Production, Investment, Labor Markets, and Informal Economy→Consumption, Saving, Wealth
- 14 January 2009
- WORKING PAPER SERIES - No. 994Details
- In this paper we examine the sustainability of euro area public finances against the backdrop of population ageing. We critically assess the widely used projections of the Working Group on Ageing Populations (AWG) of the EU's Economic Policy Committee and argue that ageing costs may be higher than projected in the AWG reference scenario. Taking into account adjusted headline estimates for ageing costs, largely based upon the sensitivity analysis carried out by the AWG, we consider alternative indicators to quantify sustainability gaps for euro area countries. With respect to the policy implications, we assess the appropriateness of different budgetary strategies to restore fiscal sustainability taking into account intergenerational equity. Our stylised analysis based upon the lifetime contribution to the government's primary balance of different generations suggests that an important degree of pre-funding of the ageing costs is necessary to avoid shifting the burden of adjustment in a disproportionate way to future generations. For many euro area countries this implies that the medium-term targets defined in the context of the revised stability and growth pact would ideally need to be revised upwards to significant surpluses.
- JEL Code
- H55 : Public Economics→National Government Expenditures and Related Policies→Social Security and Public Pensions
H60 : Public Economics→National Budget, Deficit, and Debt→General