German overall debt shrinks in 2016, heads towards EU limit

FILE PHOTO: A visitor of a skyscraper observation platform takes a picture of Frankfurt's skyline
FILE PHOTO: A visitor of a skyscraper observation platform takes a picture of Frankfurt's skyline in Germany, September 29, 2016. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

August 3, 2017

BERLIN (Reuters) – A strong economy and higher tax take drove Germany’s overall debt down by 0.7 percent in 2016, data showed on Thursday, keeping Europe’s biggest economy on track to bring debt below 60 percent of economic output by 2020.

The Statistics Office said total debt, which includes liabilities from the federal government, states, local governments and social security, stood at at 2.006 trillion euros at the end of last year.

All areas contributed to the 15.1 billion euro reduction which resulted in per-capita debt of 24,407 euros, but liabilities of Germany’s 16 federal states accounted for more than half the decline.

The Finance Ministry has said the debt-to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio had shrunk to 68.3 percent last year from 71.2 percent in 2015.

The European Union says countries should keep the debt-GDP ratio at no more than 60 percent or at least be heading in that direction. The rules have been broken for years by Germany and other countries.

(Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Richard Balmforth)