September 26, 2018 / 8:30 AM / 2 years ago

Germany reduces debt to lowest level since 2011

FILE PHOTO: People hold new 100- and 200-euro banknotes during a presentation at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, September 17, 2018. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach/File Photo

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany reduced its overall public debt by 2.3 percent to 1.93 trillion euros ($2.27 trillion) in the first half of the year, pushing it to the lowest level since 2011, data showed on Wednesday.

Sustained economic growth means Germany’s government is enjoying a budget surplus which enables it to hike public spending without taking on new borrowing.

The debt of all state levels, including federal government, the 16 federal states, municipalities and social security systems, shrank by 46.5 bln euros from January through June year-on-year, the Federal Statistics Office said.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal government reduced debt by 1.7 percent to 1.22 trillion euros and the 16 federal states lowered debt by 3.6 percent to 574.5 billion euros. Debt of the social security systems fell by 7.1 percent to 403 million euros.

Germany last week cut its debt issue plans for the fourth quarter by 2 billion euros ($2.34 billion). However, the shrinking debt poses a challenge for the European Central Bank that will have to discuss how it will reinvest money accruing from government bonds under its asset purchase program that mature next year.

Investors want to know whether the ECB will deviate from its current rules and further slow purchases in Germany, where it is nearing a self-imposed debt cap.

Reporting by Michael Nienaber,

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