The State plays in the cavalry with its finances? This is the question that is prompted to raise the reader to the last report of the association Fipeco (“public Finances and economy”), an information site hosted by François Ecalle, former conseiller maître at the Cour des comptes. In his study, the top official in the availability traces the evolution of the heritage of the administrations, comparing it to that of the public debt, to get a true picture of the real wealth of the State and communities. The balance sheet is worrying, with the balance being increased from 58 per cent of gross domestic product in 2007… to 8% in the last year.

The debt is in fact… 137% of GDP

The document redefines first, the assets and liabilities of public administrations. The public debt within the meaning of the Maastricht treaty amounted to 2,258 billion euros at the end of 2017 (98.5% of the GDP), but does not take into account certain liabilities such as the costs of short-term. By adding them, one obtains a total financial commitment of 3145 billion euros, or 137% of GDP. If one consolidates debts between administrations, it goes down to 122% of GDP. Unlike other countries such as the United States, experts from the French civil service does not record the financial commitments on pensions to come as debt. They would also blow up the ratios…

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with respect to the financial assets, there is 1308 billion euros in the public coffers. A sum that represents 57,1% of GDP and consists mainly of public shareholdings and receivables, including future products (within the year) of taxes and contributions. It is the State which holds the majority of these assets (51%), with the administrations of social security, which have all the same 35%, particularly via the pension fund.

The difference between the public debt and financial assets amounted in 1837 billion euros, and corresponds to the net financial liabilities of the State. A sum equivalent to 80% of GDP, when the average of the euro area is 68% and that of the european Union, a little more virtuous, to 64%. France made a score comparable to that of the United Kingdom or the Belgium. The net debt of the Italy, bad student, achieved 120% of GDP, while Sweden is the country with the most healthy financially, with a positive balance (net financial assets, representing 20% of the GDP).

The State prefers to impoverish that reduce expenses

It is necessary, however, to achieve a faithful image of the financial situation of the country, add non-financial assets of the State and of other public administrations. It is mainly a question of land built-up (39%), roads and civil engineering works (31%), office space, and intangible property, such as property rights, intellectual or artistic. Note, however, the historical heritage and natural spaces are valued at a price equal to zero. Considered as non-transferable and invaluable, accountants do not lose your time estimate. This means that the State does not intend to sell Versailles in the event of financial difficulty, and it is happy. For the rest, every possession in public may be sold in the event of a problem, that is to say, privatized, and is recognised as an asset.

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And the manna of non-financial assets amounted to 2028 billion euros. By adding this amount to the net debt, we get the shy positive balance of € 191 billion, or 8% of GDP. It is everything that it would (in addition to the castles and forests) if the State chooses to face his creditors… to put into perspective worrying for the future, as this heritage is lower for the past ten years. After moving around 30% over the decade 1995-2005, it reached a record 58% of GDP in 2007.

For Fipeco, it is particularly the evolution of the debt that is responsible for this loss, the assets have stagnated over the period 2007-2017. Of course, the economic situation has its positive and negative effects. But the melting of the net assets of the State was accompanied by an overall increase in taxation and the public budget, under the orders of Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron. The dive of the net assets thus shows that the debt has been used to cover the continued slide in spending.