Differences in the Design of Rescue Units and Its Impact on Government Finance Data
Albert Braakmann, Thomas Forster
Federal Statistical Office, Germany

A well-known quotation of the French statesman and cardinal Richelieu (1585-1642) is: “The budget is a states nerve.” A clear-sighted statement that is still true toiday, particularly against the background of the current financial crisis. Comparable, informative and credible statistics on the financial situation of a state are of essential importance. They are the basis for the assessment of the credit standing of a government and for its rating, which in turn has an influence on its refinance conditions. Moreover, if the international financial markets loose the confidence in the financial stability of a government, this may also affect the stability of monetary areas like the Euro zone.

Currently government expenditures and revenues as well as debt figures are influenced to a huge extend by supporting measures for the benefit of financial corporations. In connection with these supporting measures often new units were created, sometimes abroad, in which large portfolios of assets and liabilities were transferred. However, the way how these rescue units were designed differ substantially between countries. The question therefore is, does the difference in the design of rescue units have an impact on government finance data.

The paper analyses especially the rescue units and support measures carried out in Germany with those in other European countries (e.g. Ireland, France) and explains its treatment in the government financial reporting system and particularly in the national accounts, which are binding for the purposes of the excessive deficit procedure. The criteria used for the classification of the units and transactions will be dealt with as well. But the focus is on highlighting the impact of the difference in design of the rescue units on the data.