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Belgium, man, Belgium

The impact of David Cameron’s spending cuts is so impressive.

Update: To be fair, this particular chart does not give Cameron a lot of time to make a difference, but does anyone think it matters?

With respect to the other countries, my gut feelings are that the Spanish numbers are made up, and at least some of the British and Italian debts are backed by real assets that are worth something to a greater extent than are whatever is supposed to be backing the Greek, Irish, and Spanish debts. The Portuguese numbers are probably somewhere in between in terms of believability. Belgium is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma inside something French.

HT Tim Harford

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8 comments to Belgium, man, Belgium

  • Time to move our money to Estonia, it seems!

  • Ian F4

    The deeper the financial crisis, the more we eat dark chocolate and brink beer.

  • Ian F4


    Actually, perhaps that does sound right.

  • I am for drinking it, personally.

  • lucklucky

    We are certainly over 100% here in Portugal. Just the Public owned enterprises that don’t enter into the Government debt accounting are way over 10% of GDP in debt. That is one of the accounting tricks here: The Gov sell State property to those Public owned enterprises – means income enter into Gov. accounting “reducing” the deficit- while the Public enterprise gets indebted to pay for the buy. That debt stays outside the Government account.

  • Lee Moore

    What does the man mean “some of the British and Italian debts are backed by real assets that are worth something” ? They’re backed up by the prospect of future tax revenues that’s all. Governments don’t own real things that are actually worth anything (except Hong Kong which owns a bit of valuable land.) All government debt figures are complete works of fiction, since they exclude pension liabilities which in many cases greatly exceed the official debt.

  • Kevin B

    Isn’t Belgium the country that doesn’t have a government at the moment?

    Coincidence? I don’t think so.

  • Antoine Clarke

    Belgium is paying off the cost of King Leopold’s private ownership of Congo. Thankfully, those loans (which put Belgium’s debt ratio over 100% several decades ago) are presumably being paid off or inflation is doing its bit.

    Spain had no serious access to debt until the 1980s and received a sizable portion of its money from the EEC as it was. Looks like Spain joined at the right time.