Government Finance Statistics

The CSO have published the end-2013 update of these series:

There isn’t much to surprise in the figures.  Gross debt at the end of 2013 was €203 billion (124 per cent of GDP).  Once offsetting assets of €42 billion in the same categories are accounted for net debt was €161 billion.  The assets were:

  • Cash: €23.8 billion
  • Bonds: €10.8 billion
  • Loans: €7.1 billion

Other assets not used in the net debt calculation are include shares and other equity of €29.8 billion and other financial assets (mainly accounts receivable) of €9.2 billion.

The market value of Ireland’s €203 billion of nominal debt instruments was €219 billion at the end of the year.  The estimated pension liabilities of the government are put at €98 billion, while contingent liabilities are “just” €73 billion.

The 2013 general government deficit is provisionally estimated to have been €11.8 billion (7.2 per cent of GDP) from €13.4 billion in 2012.

The ‘operating balance’ of the government sector went from a deficit of €12.5 billion in 2012 to one of €11.8 billion in 2013, an improvement of just €0.7 billion.  The improvement in the overall deficit was greater because of changes in the capital budget.

Gross fixed capital formation was further reduced from €3.1 billion in 2012 to €2.7 billion in 2013.  With consumption of fixed capital at €2.3 billion the increase in the public capital stock was just €0.4 billion.  The main change in the capital account was a €0.7 billion gain in the ‘net acquisition of unproduced assets’ which likely relates to things such as mobile phone and lottery licenses.

Revenue from taxes and social contributions rose from €49.1 billion to €51.6 billion, while investment income was up around €0.5 billion to €2.7 billion. Much of these increases were offset by an increase in interest expenditure of €1.5 billion to €7.4 billion.  Social transfers paid decreased from €29.0 billion to €28.6 billion, of which €24.0 billion were in cash.

13 replies on “Government Finance Statistics”


For those of us not digging into this at the mo, can you or anyone else, expand on “while contingent liabilities are “just” €73 billion”?

@ grumpy,

It relates to the Eligible Liabilities Guarantee. The scheme was closed for new liabilities at the end of March last year but continues to cover existing liabilities until they are matured/redeemed. It is likely that around two-thirds of the €73 billion total refers to deposits (i.e. deposits over €100,000 not covered by the Deposit Guarantee Scheme). Over time the contingent liability should reduce. It is “just” €73 billion because it was greater then €300 billion back in 2008/09.

Based on what you say, Ireland’s net position on nominal debt instruments is about 98% of GDP – or 26 percentage points below the gross position. Have you any feel for what the normal gap between gross and net positions might be for high debt developed countries?

OK – useful …

but I prefer ‘GNP’ as I view this metric as more relevant in terms of ‘repayment capability’ … and in terms of indigenous social & economic capability.

I note that Johnny Fitz has recently converted to GNP …..

… that said, the ESRI, IMHO, has lost a lot of credibility notwithstanding the number of ‘heads of standing’ within its community ….

… nor have I seen, 5 years later, any reasonably plausible explanation as to why the leading research institute in the state was caught with its pants/panties down while the Citizenry was sold down the toilet to the benefit of the systems of Money & Corporate Power. Methinks there must be a wee problem with how it ‘thinks’ but thus far little has emerged to throw any light on its blind spots.

@Seafoid, Seamus

The €98bn pension liabilities is arrived at using 5% as the discount rate.

Irish sovs, as you know, about 3%.

@ Grumpy


5% on o/s debt obviously would not be ideal for the deficit but it’s high enough to discount the pension liabilities in order to get a reasonable number. And sure who is going to be looking too deeply into it anyway ?

@ BeeCeeTee,

Yes, Ireland would be unusually high in having debt instrument assets equivalent to 24% of GDP. In the EZ18, Ireland is second only to Finland which had a gap of 46% (2012 data).

The unweighted average for the EZ is 16%; take out Finland the the average is 14%. So we are around 10% of GDP above the average, though not necessarily for high-debt countries.

Greece 17.8%
Spain 14.9%
Italy 12.1%
Portugal 20.3%

Ireland also has the highest amount of these assets held as “current and deposits”. Our 15% of GDP cash reserve is more double the unweighted EZ average of 7.5% of GDP, though again high-debt countries seem to be above this.

Greece 10.6%
Spain 8.2%
Italy 4.8%
Portugal 11.6%

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