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I wanted to have a look at Greek's data to have an idea of the debt crisis' impact on various indicators.

Two of those indicators are national debt levels (in GDP% or in absolute value) and government deficit. I've verified data on this site, they are coherent with other sources like OECD.

So those sources says that debt is growing on the last few years :

Date    Debt    Debt (%GDP) Debt Per Capita
2018    334,721 181.20%     31,217€
2017    317,484 176.20%     29,558€
2016    315,009 178.50%     29,254€

So far so good, but on the deficit side, the data says that they are generating a surplus since 2016 :

Date    Deficit (M.€)   Deficit (%GDP)
2018    1,826           1.00%
2017    1,299           0.70%
2016    858             0.50%
2015    -9,953          -5.60%

So my question is the following, how can the government debt rise (especially in 2018) while the government is generating surplus instead of deficits?

I suspect some variations in the accounting definition of the national debt, but I don't find any publication supporting this (so if that's the case, I'd be happy to have them and to know where to find them).

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  • $\begingroup$ The data source is not really clear how things are measured I would recommend getting data from let’s say Eurostat, which provides extensive meta data and definitions for all variables, (or OECD world bank etc) but my guess is that this will be because it’s primary budget deficit and does not include interest payments $\endgroup$ – 1muflon1 Dec 11 '19 at 10:36
  • $\begingroup$ I looked at OECD, figures are the same, and definitions not much helpful. Interest payments are within it, the primary surplus (without interests payments) is between 3 and 4% of their GDP $\endgroup$ – gvo Dec 11 '19 at 10:59
  • $\begingroup$ The terms for Eurostat are "Government consolidated gross debt" and "net lending (+) / net borrowing (-)" ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/products-datasets/-/tipsgo11 $\endgroup$ – gvo Dec 11 '19 at 12:08
  • $\begingroup$ if it’s the primary surplus, as you mentioned in your first reply, then I would say that’s due to interest payments. To be sure you can double check by looking up the interest payments. Also, it could be due to measurement error. Sometimes the gov accounts are so messy that the debt is partially estimated... I did not check the full methodology though but it might be worth while looking at for yourself $\endgroup$ – 1muflon1 Dec 11 '19 at 13:28
  • $\begingroup$ The figures here are not the primary surplus, my first comment said the exact opposite. Would it be possible that they invested in some assets, and those investments are not considered as a deficit, but not considered as money in their account neither, and so the debt increased? If so, I would be interested to know where to find those elements. $\endgroup$ – gvo Dec 12 '19 at 9:57

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