Stephen Koukoulas of TD Securities:
The Australian Treasury has just released a comparison of public sector debt levels across the G7 and Australia. The data for the G7 are from the OECD outlook which was released in November 2008, so the data are certainly going to understate the extent of the rise in the level of debt into 2010. The Australia data take account of updated forecasts after the second round of fiscal measures.
That said, there are some striking features of the public debt levels.
Public Debt to GDP ratio (2010 est)
Public debt exploded during the 1990s and while it has risen in the 2000s, the rate of increase is slowing.
There has been little change in net public debt over two decades, although Italy continues to have a very high level of debt to GDP.
The benefits of running budget surpluses is all too clear with Canada’s debt the 2nd lowest of the sample.
Debt levels have crept higher and are similar to the level in Germany and the UK.
See France above
Having seen public debt levels fall during the Clinton / Democrat years in the 1990s, debt jumped during the Bush / Republican period and now, with the Great Recession, is spiking the levels exceeded only by Japan and Italy.
Debt levels were stable but are about to rise. Perhaps contrary to perception, debt is well below the U.S and similar to France and Germany
Even allowing for two substantial fiscal packages, public debt is close to zero.