Text from the Indicator Report 2022
The government debt is determined by the Bundesbank twice annually pursuant to the requirements of the Maastricht Treaty and based on calculations by the Federal Statistical Office. The GDP at current prices is determined by the Federal Statistical Office as part of the national accounts system.
The debt-to-GDP ratio is influenced by the state of the public budgets and by economic development in general. According to the formula – assuming stable debt – the debt ratio falls faster the stronger GDP growth. On the other hand, the debt-to-GDP ratio can increase, if the GDP shows a stronger decline than the absolute debt in the same period of time. Furthermore, the indicator excludes implicit government debt, which refers to the government’s future payment obligations that are pledged but not yet due.
Between 2003 and 2018, Germany’s debt-to-GDP ratio was above the prescribed EU-wide reference level. Following budgetary consolidation measures, the ratio fell from 67.5 % in 2005 to 64.2 % in 2007, but then it rose again to peak at 82.0 % in 2010. This increase must be seen in the context of the financial and economic crisis. Since 2012, Germany’s public debt-to-GDP ratio steadily decreased to a value of 58.9 % in 2019 and, thus, dropped below the reference level of 60 % determined by the Maastricht Treaty for the first time. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the debt-to-GDP ratio increased significantly and reached 68.0 % in 2020 and 68.6 % in 2021.
In 2021, the debt-to-GDP ratio of 13 EU-states fell below the reference value of 60 %. The EU-average was 87.9 % in the respective year. The highest debt-to-GDP ratio were measured for Greece (194.5 %) and Italy (150.3 %); the lowest for Estonia (17.6 %).
Consolidated debt of the state steadily increased since 1991, however, it reduced in 2013 for the first time and constantly decreased from 2015 on. In 2019, the consolidated debt of the overall public budget was 2,047 billion euros. In consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the consolidated debt increased to 2,472 billion euros in 2021 and, thus, reached its peak since 1991. Germany’s debt per capita increased in 2021 to 29,708 euros; in 1991, the value was at 7,730 euros.
Non-consolidated debt amounted to 2,486 billion euros in 2021. Of the total amount of government debt in the respective year, about 67.0 % was federal debt, while some 26.7 % was owed by the Länder and 6.3 % by local government. The debt of the social insurance amounted to 392 million euros (0.0 %).
In the national balance of assets, the government debt is balanced by its assets – both tangible and financial. According to the national wealth accounts compiled by the Federal Statistical Office, fixed assets were valued (after amortisation) at 1,509 billion euros in 2020. The biggest asset owned by the government is its buildings and structures (roads, schools, public buildings) at a value of 1,284 billion euros, accounting for more than a third of the total assets of the state (34.4 %). The financial assets were valued at 1,555 billion euros (2020). Among them, securities represent the most highly valued asset (52.0 %).