Two budgets, two speeds: Greece outstrips France


There is a two-speed euro zone when it comes to budget discipline according to Thomson Reuters data – with Greece being forced into maintaining a large primary surplus at one end and France being pretty much left to its own devices at the other.

Greece's primary surplus – the budget leftover before debt obligations – is set to run at 2.2 percent of GDP this year and 3.7 percent next year.

France, however, is expected to post a 1.1 percent primary deficit this year and a bigger one of 1.3 percent in 2018. It is one of only five countries – along with Latvia, Estonia, Spain and Finland – due to run such a deficit in the next two years.

There is a big difference, of course. Greece is on its third international bailout and has agreed to go for a primary surplus next year and beyond of 3.5 percent in order to secure funds.

France has no such difficulties.

Greece also has a massive debt to GDP ratio, which is what got it into trouble in the first place.

But Greek debt is set to creep down, albeit slowly. The European Commission predicts it will be 170.6 percent of GDP in 2018 versus 179.7 percent in 2016.

France, however, has a rising debt to GDP ratio, and not a particularly small one. The Commission figures show it at 97.0 percent in 2018 versus 96.4 percent in 2016.

Two speeds – and two directions.