Bulgaria Flag National Debt

Bulgaria Has Shown Remarkable Economic Stability – So Why Is Its Credit Rating So Poor?

36,711,198,031 Lev

Source: European Union Data

Last Updated: May 30, 2024

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Interest Payments Per Year
Interest Payments Per Second
National Debt Per Citizen
Debt as % of GDP
GDP Of Bulgaria
Bulgaria Population

In this guide to Bulgaria’s national debt, we go into more detail about the debt to GDP ratio and what the country’s credit rating is.

The National Debt Of Bulgaria

The national debt of Bulgaria is another way of saying “Bulgaria’s general government debt,” which means the debts of every layer of government.

Bulgaria’s government debt accounted for 21.3 % of the country’s GDP in Jun 2020 – the second-lowest debt-to-GDP ratio in the EU, after Luxembourg.

Certain government debts, such as those incurred by state-owned enterprises, are not included in Bulgaria’s national debt figures.

International financial bodies, such as the IMF, only include formal debt arrangements that are covered by borrowing agreements in national debt figures.

This means that bank loans and borrowing through the issuance of bonds are included, but debts represented by unpaid invoices are not.

Obligations to external bodies, such as guarantees to the European Financial Stability Fund are also included. However, domestic obligations represented by guarantees on loans given to state-owned enterprises and obligations to future pension payments are not.

Bulgaria is a member of the EU, but not a member of the Eurozone. The country has its own currency, which is called the Lev.

As Bulgaria is an EU member, the Bulgarian government is obliged to report its finances according to rules laid down in the Maastricht Treaty. These figures are monitored by Eurostat.

The rules for the calculation of national debt used by the IMF and Eurostat are very similar. One difference is that Eurostat counts obligations to EU institutions as part of the national debt, whereas the IMF does not.

Economists are more interested in a country’s ability to repay debt rather than the absolute amount. So, they use a debt-to-GDP ratio when they express national debt.

The IMF also reports net debt figures. The headline debt-to-GDP figures refer to “gross debt”. Net debt is calculated by deducting all of the financial assets held by the government of a country from its gross debt.

Is Bulgaria’s National Debt Growing?

Bulgaria had a tumultuous period after changing over from the communist system in the early 1990s and adopting the capitalist model.

Bulgaria wasn’t hit as hard by the 2008 global financial crisis as the larger economies in the world. Nonetheless, the general global economic slowdown did impact the Bulgarian economy.

The country’s economy experienced a sharp retraction throughout 2009. However, Bulgaria managed to keep its GDP changes in positive territory since then.

The Bulgarian government implemented a reflationary policy in 2014, which can be seen as an increase in debt in the first graph in this section.

However, that policy paid off with a leap in economic growth during 2015, which can be seen in the second graph.

Although the government is still running budget deficits to expand its economy, the rate of GDP growth was exceeding the rate of government borrowing until 2020 when the global coronavirus pandemic also hit Bulgaria hard.

What is Bulgaria’s credit rating?

The credit rating of a government takes into account a range of economic and political factors. The three main credit rating agencies give Bulgaria a surprisingly low rating, as shown in the table below.

Standard & Poor'sBBB-Stable
Moody'sBa2Positive Watch

Fun Facts About Bulgaria’s National Debt

  • You could wrap $1 bills around the Earth 81 times with the debt amount.

  • If you lay $1 bills on top of each other they would make a pile 2,276 km, or 1,414 miles high.

  • That's equivalent to 0.01 trips to the Moon.

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