By Henri Maurer, Hans Olsson and Nicola Pieruzzini

When economists speak of public debt, most of us think of securities such as sovereign bonds or other tradeable debt instruments issued by governments. But there are two more categories of government debt that are also important: “loans” and “currency and deposits”.[1] While debt securities typically make up the largest share, loans, currency and deposits are a significant component, equivalent to about 16% of euro area GDP in 2022 (Chart 1) or 17.5% of total government debt.

This component is even more important in certain countries. In the euro area this is the case of Greece (around 130% of GDP) and Portugal (around 45%). Both countries were recipients of EU/IMF financial assistance loans during the euro area sovereign debt crisis, although other factors can play a role.[2]


Until recently, the available government debt statistics offered relatively limited insights into this component. Their main focus was on original maturity and funding instruments, namely deposits and loans. The newly introduced loans, currency and deposits breakdown provides more detail. It shows the various sources of funding and gives a breakdown by creditor category, including commercial banks, multilateral institutions (such as the International Monetary Fund) and the European Union. It also allows for a more thorough evaluation of government financing. In the ECB Data Portal, the new breakdown is available from 2015 onwards. The full details are available for the euro area and some countries, while for the remaining countries partial information is available.

The largest share of the loans, currency and deposits component consists of loan and deposit liabilities with euro area banks as a counterparty sector. These liabilities are on a declining trend, broadly in line with the overall component in government debt (Chart 2). A similar path can be seen in funding through loans and deposits from other counterparties, including domestic funding (by households, insurance corporations, pension funds and non-financial corporations) and funding by non-euro area residents and other EU institutions (in particular the European Investment Bank). The loans granted under the financial assistance programmes of the European Union and International Monetary Fund (IMF) are also on the decline, with all IMF loans having been fully repaid in 2022.

However, since 2020, a further, growing component has emerged. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU designed two new loan support schemes for Member States: the European instrument for temporary Support to mitigate Unemployment Risks in an Emergency (SURE) and the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).


[1] For more details on the categorisation of government debt, see the box entitled “The structure of government debt in terms of instruments”, Economic Bulletin, Issue 3, ECB, 2021.

[2] Savings products issued by the Treasury classified as deposits contribute to the relative importance of the loans, currency and deposits component in Portugal.


Further information 

LCD general and technical notes

Interactive report 

Government debt in loans, currency and deposits

Related statistics 

Government finance statistics dataset


The views expressed in each article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the European Central Bank and the Eurosystem.