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Europe sinks deeper into debt

By Stephanie Gruner Buckley
Eurostat
Europe’s debtor nations

Data released today from Eurostat show Europe sinking deeper into debt, which has reached 90% of economic output for the 17-country euro zone—up from 88.2% a quarter ago.

Not surprisingly, Greece tops the debtor nation list (chart above). It’s in hock to the tune of one-and-a-half times its GDP, or €300.8 billion ($392 billion). Italy follows, then Portugal and Ireland. The least indebted are Estonia, Bulgaria, and Luxembourg.

Greece is also the country whose debt burden has jumped the most in the last quarter, though that’s after new loans from the euro zone to stave off its bankruptcy (chart below). Cyprus and Portugal are next. Only six of the 27 EU countries lowered their debt-to-GDP ratio, with the biggest drops coming from Lithuania, Latvia and Hungary.

Eurostat
Poor quarterly progress

Finally, only four countries decreased their debt burdens compared with the same quarter in 2011 (chart below). And the good news here is that Greece was the one that dropped the most. Troubled Spain, however, had the fourth-highest increase.

Eurostat
A better showing by Greece