Sunday, 27 May 2012

How bad is Greece?

Rory O'Farrell: Government deficits can be broken down into two parts: interest payments and the 'primary balance'. The primary balance includes everything other than interest payments; so it includes social welfare, money raised through taxation, salaries etc.

Greece is often portrayed as a basket case that just can't get its act together. However, as can be seen (click graph to enlarge), Greece's primary balance is better than France and Netherlands. Greece's problems are largely due to the legacy of the past.


ceekee said...

What's up with the black section in the Greek column? Should it be colored red instead?

ceekee said...

actually that was a pointless question. lets just ignore it!

Anonymous said...

What's the source of the data? I want to check some longer term figures if they are available. Thanks, Mike.

Rory O'Farrell said...

@ Mike

I got the data from the AMECO database (which is a database of the European Commission). The farthest the data goes to is 2013. It goes back to 1960. The link is

Go to part 16.4, and I chose Interest, Net lending, and Net lending excluding interest.

The IMF give more long term projections than the EU Commission. The IMF data is available from

Also relevant is the Troika's 5th review. This is less up to date (compiled in February), only refers to Ireland, but is far more detailed. It is available from (look at 2nd March, 2012; Country Report No. 12/48)