Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Think US Debt Is High? Take a Look at Europe's Most Indebted Nations

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Think US Debt Is High? Take a Look at Europe's Most Indebted Nations

Article excerpt

With Washington locked in a debt-ceiling stalemate, debt seems to be on everyone's mind. So, how does US debt compare with that of European countries, embroiled in a debt crisis of their own? In April, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the US government's gross debt amounted to 99 percent of gross domestic product. That's high, but less than four of Europe's five largest debtors. Editor's note: All figures are come from International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook database that was updated in April 2011. See the full statistics here.

With Washington locked in a debt-ceiling stalemate, debt seems to be on everyone's mind. So, how does US debt compare with that of European countries, embroiled in a debt crisis of their own? In April, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the US government's gross debt amounted to 99 percent of gross domestic product. That's high, but less than four of Europe's five largest debtors.

Editor's note: All figures are come from International Monetary Fund's World Economic Outlook database that was updated in April 2011. See the full statistics here.

#5 Belgium

Congress may be unable to come to any kind of agreement on raising the debt ceiling and curbing the deficit, but at least the US has a functioning government. That's more than Belgium can say. It has been without a government for more than a year now - a big obstacle to doing anything about its public debt, which was at 97 percent of its GDP in April. It is difficult to reduce the deficit when there is no government to vote on a budget.

Belgium is the eurozone's sixth-largest economy and its third most-indebted nation, according to Bloomberg.

#4 Iceland

Iceland, whose banking system collapsed in 2008, was the first of the Western European countries (although not part of the eurozone) to take a financial hit in the global recession. In January 2009, the Monitor described its 2008 financial meltdown, spurred on by risky banking practices, as the canary in the coal mine for the rest of the region.

Iceland was the world's fourth-richest nation before its collapse. Three years later, it is still struggling to kick its economic growth back into gear. …

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