Eurozone debt web: Who owes what to whom?

Eurozone debt web: Who owes what to whom?

The circle below shows the gross external, or foreign, debt of some of the main players in the eurozone as well as other big world economies. The arrows show how much money is owed by each country to banks in other nations. The arrows point from the debtor to the creditor and are proportional to the money owed as of the end of June 2011. The colours attributed to countries are a rough guide to how much trouble each economy is in.

( view interactive chart at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15748696 )

ABOUT

Click on a country name to see who they owe

Europe is struggling to find a way out of the eurozone crisis amid mounting debts, stalling growth and widespread market jitters. After Greece, Ireland, and Portugal were forced to seek bail-outs, Italy – approaching an unaffordable cost of borrowing – has been the latest focus of concern.

But, with global financial systems so interconnected, this is not just a eurozone problem and the repercussions extend beyond its borders.

While lending between nations presents little problem during boom years, when a country can no longer handle its debts, those overseas banks and financial institutions that lent it money are exposed to losses. This could not only unsettle the home country of those banks, but could, in turn, spread the troubles across the world.

So, in the tangled web of inter-country lending, who owes what to whom? Click on a country in the circle to find out what they owe to banks in other countries, as well to find out their total foreign debt, including that owed by governments, monetary authorities, banks and companies.

FRANCE

GDP: €1.8 tn
Foreign debt: €4.2 tn

€66,508Foreign debt per person

235%
Foreign debt to GDP

87%
Govt debt to GDP

Risk Status: MEDIUM

Europe’s second biggest economy is greatly exposed to the eurozone’s troubled debtors. Its banks hold large amounts of Greek, Italian and Spanish debt. This is causing market turbulence, especially against a backdrop of faltering French growth and low consumer spending.

SPAIN

GDP: €0.7 tn
Foreign debt: €1.9 tn

€41,366
Foreign debt per person

284%
Foreign debt to GDP
67%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: MEDIUM
Spain’s number one worry is bailed-out Portugal, which is indebted to it by billions of euros. Spain itself owes large amounts to Germany and France. As the country attempts to get its debts under control, there are fears the country could be thrown back into recession after November’s parliamentary elections, after which a wave of spending cuts and economic reforms are likely. The bursting of a housing and construction boom in 2008 had plunged Spain’s economy into a recession that was deeper than in many other European countries.

PORTUGAL

GDP: €0.2 tn
Foreign debt: €0.4 tn
€38,081
Foreign debt per person
251%
Foreign debt to GDP
106%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: HIGH
Portugal, the third eurozone country to need a bail-out, is in deep recession. It is currently implementing a series of austerity measures as well as planning a series of privatisations to fix its shaky finances and reduce its debt burden. The country is highly indebted to Spain, and its banks are owed 7.5bn euros by Greece.

ITALY

GDP: €1.2 tn
Foreign debt: €2 tn
€32,875
Foreign debt per person
163%
Foreign debt to GDP
121%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: HIGH
Italy has a large amount of debt, but it is a relatively wealthy country compared with Greece and Portugal. However, doubt about Italy’s leadership and fears that its debt load could grow more quickly than the Italian economy’s capacity to support it have left the markets jittery. France is most exposed to Italian debt.

IRELAND

GDP: €0.2 tn
Foreign debt: €1.7 tn
€390,969
Foreign debt per person
1,093%
Foreign debt to GDP
109%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: HIGH
One of three eurozone countries to so far receive a bail-out, Ireland has introduced a series of tough austerity budgets. Its economy is now showing a modest recovery. After the boom years leading up to 2008, the country fell into recession as a result of the global credit squeeze, which ended the supply of cheap credit that had fuelled the unsustainable growth in its housing market. It shows a very high level of gross foreign debt to GDP because, although it is a small country, it has a large financial sector. The UK is Ireland’s biggest creditor.

GREECE

GDP: €0.2 tn
Foreign debt: €0.4 tn
€38,073
Foreign debt per person
252%
Foreign debt to GDP
166%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: HIGH
Greece is heavily indebted to eurozone countries and is one of three eurozone countries to have received a bail-out. Although the Greek economy is small and direct damage of it defaulting on its debts might be absorbed by the eurozone, the big fear is “contagion” – or that a Greek default could trigger a financial catastrophe for other, much bigger economies, such as Italy.

JAPAN

GDP: €4.1 tn
Foreign debt: €2 tn
€15,934
Foreign debt per person
50%
Foreign debt to GDP
233%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: LOW
The world’s third-largest economy has the highest public debt level amongst developed economies. However, most of its debt is owed internally, so it is not seen as at risk of default. The global financial crisis, this year’s earthquake and tsunami, a strong yen and Europe’s debt crisis are clouding its current economic outlook. But the government has pledged to turn the country’s annual budget deficit into a surplus by 2020.

GERMANY

GDP: €2.4 tn
Foreign debt: €4.2 tn
€50,659
Foreign debt per person
176%
Foreign debt to GDP
83%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: LOW
The biggest European economy is exposed to Greek, Irish and Portuguese, but mostly, Spanish debt. If any of these defaults, Germany will be hit. Its economy is slowing, mainly because of the problems plaguing its eurozone partners. And as Europe’s industrial powerhouse, any problems in Germany mean more problems for the eurozone, but also for the wider international system.

UK

GDP: €1.7 tn
Foreign debt: €7.3 tn
€117,580
Foreign debt per person
436%
Foreign debt to GDP
81%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: LOW
The UK has very large amounts of overseas debt, of which the biggest component is the banking industry. The high debt to GDP ratio is explained by the UK’s active financial sector, where there is a great deal of capital movement. This level of overall external debt is generally not seen as a problem because the UK also holds high-value assets. Having said this, the UK economy remains in the doldrums and the country is highly exposed to Irish as well as Italian and Portuguese debt. The UK in turn owes hundreds of billions to Germany and Spain.

US

GDP: €10.8 tn
Foreign debt: €10.9 tn
€35,156
Foreign debt per person
101%
Foreign debt to GDP
100%
Govt debt to GDP
Risk Status: LOW

Although the US’s overseas debt almost equates to its annual GDP, it is still regarded as a safe bet. However, its credit rating has been downgraded. Although Asia – primarily China and Japan – holds the majority of US debt, Europe has the second largest percentage. This means whatever happens in the eurozone will have a deep impact on the US banking system. Within Europe, the UK, Switzerland and France hold the largest amount of US debt, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars.


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