Euro-Region Debt Rises to Highest in Currency’s History

The debt of the euro region rose last year to the highest since the start of the single currency as governments increased borrowing to plug budget deficits and fund bailouts of fellow nations crippled by the fiscal crisis.

The debt of the 17 euro nations climbed to 87.2 percent of gross domestic product in 2011 from 85.3 percent the previous year, official European Union figures showed today. That’s the highest since the euro was introduced in 1999. Greece topped the list with debt at 165.3 percent of GDP, while Estonia had the least at 6 percent of GDP.

Euro-region nations are on the hook for the bulk of the 386 billion euros ($508 billion) in bailouts for Greece, Ireland and Portugal after those nations were forced to seek rescues when their borrowing costs become unsustainable. Concern that Spain and Italy may follow has led their bonds to decline for six weeks, pushing yields toward the 7 percent level that triggered the other aid programs.


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