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Government finance statistics: debt securities

19/07/2019

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The financial accounts of general government cover transactions in financial assets and liabilities as well as the stock of financial assets and liabilities.

Governments can not only issue debt securities such as government bonds, i.e. incur liabilities, but can also hold them as assets on their balance sheets. There are several reasons for governments to buy debt securities. For example, social security funds might hold them as a way of building reserves for the payment of future social benefits. Another reason for government institutions to own debt securities is through public financial defeasance structures (also known as bad banks) that are regarded as government institutions. The latter caused the increase in debt securities holdings since the beginning of the financial crisis, most notably in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Time series of assests in debt securities held by EU-28 general governent

The data source is Eurostat table gov_10q_ggfa.

Debts securities can either be short-term, where the original maturity does not exceed one year, or long-term and are valued at market prices. In the first quarter of 2019, the 28 EU governments held EUR 451 billion of debt securities with counterparties other than their respective governments (i.e. consolidated).

For more information on quarterly government finance statistics, please take a look at the latest Statistics Explained article on this topic, accessible here.

 

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