Europe's growing inter-government debt imbalance
TARGETing problems in eurozone
The graph represents the imbalances that have built up over the last three years, with the Bundesbank finding itself on the hook for over €450bn. The deficits in Italy and Spain are the largest, and an earlier chart from five months before shows that capital flight from these two has accelerated alarmingly, particularly for Italy, which only two years ago had a positive balance. While the deficits for the smaller periphery nations look less alarming, as a percentage of GDP they are significant. Worst are Ireland at 75% of GDP, Greece (45%), and Portugal (30%).
These are extra inter-government debts that happen to have accrued at the central bank level, and so far have been missed in all estimates of debt-to-GDP ratios. Since the year-end, over the last three months these imbalances must have deteriorated further, with the possible exception of Ireland, whose position appears to be stabilising.
The build-up of imbalances through TARGET has prevented the immediate financial collapses of Greece et al from capital flight.