Netherlands Flag National Debt

What The Netherlands Debt Clock Tells Us About Dutch Economic Investment Policy


Source: Dutch Government Data.

Last Updated: June 14, 2024

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

The National Debt Of Netherlands

National debt can be measured by a number of methods. Organizations like the IMF counts general government debt as the national debt.

While the latest IMF data isn’t available for the Netherlands on national debt and debt-to-GDP ratio, we gathered data from the OECD. The OECD counts all public debt, which includes all levels of government and also state-owned agencies.

How Is Netherlands’ Debt-To-GDP Ratio?

The gross national debt of the Netherlands as 62.5% of the country’s GDP. That figure adds up all of the public debt that the national government owed in 2019.

The 2019 data shows a 3.5% decrease in public debt in relation to GDP from 66% in 2018. In fact, Dutch debt-to-GDP ratios have been falling since a peak of 83.3% in 2014:

dutch national debt
Source: OECD (2019), General Government Debt, Data (accessed on 12/8/20)

Net debt deducts the financial assets held by a government from the gross debt figure.

Who Manages The Netherlands’ National Debt?

The government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is responsible for managing the economy and that includes the national debt.

The government department that is directly in charge of the debt is the Ministry of Finance.

The Ministry gives the responsibility of managing the national debt to Agentschap Van Het Ministerie Van Financiën, that is, the Dutch State Treasury Agency (DSTA).

How Is The Dutch National Debt In 2020?

Under the Maastricht Treaty, the government of the Netherlands is bound to keep its annual budget deficit under 3% of GDP and bring the country’s national debt down to 60% of GDP.

After ratifying that treaty, the Dutch government did very well at getting the country’s national debt down.

However, the country was hit hard by the 2008 financial crisis and the continuing repercussions of government debt throughout Europe have made it difficult for the government to fulfill its obligations and keep debt down.

How Was The Dutch Economy Impacted During The Crisis?

The nations’ finance was hit hard by the collapse of ABN-Amro, one of the world’s major banks.

A simultaneous burst in a property price bubble in the country created a raft of non-performing loans that weighed down the economy further because it caused a credit squeeze.

In order to pump liquidity into the economy, the government had to take on more debt itself, which is clear to see in the debt to GDP graph.

The government adopted a policy of maintaining a large annual budget deficit in order to keep the economy expanding. This policy can be seen very clearly in the chart below.

general government deficit
Source: OECD (2019), General Government Deficit, Data (accessed on 12/8/20)

The government intentionally increased its debt year by year, decreasing the budget deficit every year as a proportion of the national income (GDP).

When Did The Netherlands Find Balance With Spending?

The goal of returning to a balanced budget was finally achieved in 2016. That task of starting to reduce deficits and try to bring down the national debt was made easier by the expanding Dutch economy.

After a fall in 2008, the GDP of the Netherlands has grown consistently, as is shown in the graph below.

netherlands GDP
Source: OECD (2019), Gross Domestic Product, Data (accessed on 12/8/20)

The growth in GDP has also lifted house prices back up above the levels of the mortgages that homeowners took out on them.

Did The Dutch Government Succeed In Fixing The Economy?

So, by growing the national economy, the government has managed to fix most of the public sector debt problems that were caused by negative equity.

The success of this campaign means that the government of the Netherlands can now start to run budget surpluses and pay down the national debt.

With an expanding GDP, the payments that the government makes to pay down the national debt in absolute figures will reflect as an even sharper fall in the debt to GDP figures.

Learn more about the Dutch economy in our Economic Overview Of The Netherlands. We explain GDP stats, import, export, and most traded commodities.

How Does The Dutch Government Raise Loans?

The DSTA uses a number of methods to raise debt. The position of the Dutch national debt at the end of 2018 by debt type is shown in the table below.

Amount in EurosPercent of total debt
Cash in foreign currency00.00
DSL outstanding313,219,742,55990.62
DTC outstanding16,950,000,0004.90
CP outstanding in EUR00.00
CP outstanding in foreign currency00.00
Private Loans outstanding826,649,6290.24
Private Loans outstanding in foreign currency372,371,4630.11
Total outstanding 332,688,763,65096.25
Cash collateral12,953,727,9623.75
Total outstanding (including cash collateral)345,642,491,612100

What Types Of Dutch Debt Are There?

The main channels of debt in this list are:

  1. Bank loans
  2. Treasury bills
  3. Bonds

The two government securities in that list that the DSTA issues are:

  • DTC (Dutch Treasury Certificates): Basically, treasury bills. These instruments are commonly used by all governments for short-term financing. These securities are tradeable on the secondary money market. A DTC is never issued with a maturity of more than one year.
  • DSL/DST (Dutch State Loan): These are bonds, a form of debt is not created through bank loans — the DSTA takes out bank loans as well. The DST is a bond. These bonds pay a fixed rate of interest for their lifetimes. A DST has a maturity period of more than a year. These securities are also tradeable.

What Else Should You Know About Dutch Debt Instruments?

The DTC does not pay any interest. However, the bills are sold at a discount and redeemed at full face value.

The DSTA does not sell either bonds or Treasury bills directly onto the open market. The Agency has compiled a list of authorized buyers, who are the Primary Dealers.

When a new issue of securities is released, only the primary dealers are allowed to buy them directly from the DSTA.

Those dealers then sell on their allocations by placing them for sale on the secondary markets. At this point, anyone else is allowed to buy the securities.

Other Facts About Dutch National Debt

What facts should you know about Netherlands’ national debt?

  • You could wrap $1 bills around the Earth 2,306 times with the debt amount.

  • If you lay $1 bills on top of each other they would make a pile 64,688 km, or 40,195 miles high.

  • That's equivalent to 0.17 trips to the Moon.

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Further Reading

You can find more live debt clocks on for nations from all over the world. Our most popular debt clocks are for the US, South Africa, Singapore, Canada, and China.

Interested in national economies? See our economic overviews. Our guides include summaries of:

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