Government Debt Indicators: Understanding the Data

36 Pages Posted: 14 Oct 2015

See all articles by Debra Bloch

Debra Bloch

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Economics Department (ECO)

Falilou Fall

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD)

Date Written: October 14, 2015

Abstract

There is no single "best" indicator for analysing general government debt. This paper examines the various issues in defining and measuring debt, and explores other data which could be useful, both within and beyond the general government debt concept, to better track and analyse fiscal risks and sustainability issues. Measures from the broadest view of debt – gross financial liabilities – to the most comprehensive accounting of asset and liability positions – net worth – are all helpful metrics. So, too, are narrower data on specific issues, such as future pension liabilities, government guarantees and debt composition. Better data reporting, including more complete metadata and broader data collection, are needed to allow for an arsenal of comparable debt concepts to better anticipate future fiscal pressures.

Keywords: net worth, national accounts, public debt, government guarantee, general government, contingent liability

JEL Classification: E01, E62, H6

Suggested Citation

Bloch, Debra and Fall, Falilou, Government Debt Indicators: Understanding the Data (October 14, 2015). OECD Working Paper , Vol. 1228. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2673985 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2673985

Debra Bloch (Contact Author)

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) - Economics Department (ECO) ( email )

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75116
France

Falilou Fall

Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) ( email )

2 rue Andre Pascal
Paris Cedex 16, 75775
France

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