Cyprus Tops Germany as Bailout Payer, Relatively Speaking

Even as Cyprus crashed toward a bailout, its government contributed more in relative terms than Germany to fighting the euro debt crisis.

Cyprus funneled 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product into rescue lending by the end of 2012, exceeding Germany’s 2.1 percent share, according to data published today by the European statistics office in Luxembourg. Germany delivered the most in absolute terms.

Spain, Italy, Malta and Slovenia also outspent Europe’s largest economy on a relative basis, belying the myth among German voters that they are bearing the heaviest load to keep the 17-nation currency afloat.

“These numbers are a clear reminder that Germany is the biggest paymaster but definitely not the only one,” said Carsten Brzeski, an economist at ING Group NV in Brussels. “Almost all troubled euro-zone countries have paid their part to financial solidarity.”

Spain’s lending came as it was forced to sue for aid for its banks. Cyprus went from contributor to aid recipient in 2013, when it teetered on the abyss of being pushed out of the euro.

Shrinking economies partly explain why four of the five have shouldered a bigger relative share than Germany. The fifth, Malta, was the only one to fare better in 2012, growing 0.8 percent compared to Germany’s 0.7 percent.

On a euro basis, Germany’s claim to be the euro zone’s principal guarantor is valid. Germany stood behind loans of 56 billion euros ($77 billion) as of the end of 2012, Eurostat said. France followed at 42 billion euros; it tied with Germany in relative terms at 2.1 percent of GDP.

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