Published on 22 May 2023
The 2023 edition of the OECD Sovereign Borrowing Outlook analyses the impact of increased macroeconomic and geopolitical uncertainty on sovereign borrowing needs and borrowing conditions. It provides outstanding debt amounts from 2007 to 2022, along with 2023 projections for OECD member countries. It also reviews sovereign debt issuance trends in emerging markets and developing economies. This edition continues to explore the perspective of public debt managers on sustainable bonds, with a focus on reporting requirements and performance of these bonds in markets. It also provides recommendations for sovereign debt management offices on how best to develop and implement buyback programmes.
- OECD countries' borrowing needs continiued to decrease by more than 20% in 2022 compared to the peak levels during the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Outstanding debt also decreased from 88% to 83% of GDP during the same period. However, Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has disrupted this trend. Borrowing is expected to increase slightly in 2023 as many OECD countries aim to protect households and businesses from rising prices. The current geopolitical landscape adds to the uncertainty surrounding government funding needs.
- Despite the general downward trend in the last two years, borrowing and debt levels remain substantially elevated against pre-pandemic levels. In 2022 borrowing needs were 43% above the 2011-2019 average, with total outstanding debt at ten percentage points of GDP above the average over that same period. This substantial volume of government debt will need to be repaid or refinanced, and much of it soon. Almost half of OECD marketable debt – some USD 23 trillion – will fall due over the next three years.
- During the pandemic, many OECD countries could count on accommodative monetary policy to soften both the costs of financing higher debt levels and refinancing risks, but this is no longer the case. Borrowing costs have have more than doubled for OECD sovereigns since 2021, and look set to rise further still in the near term. As a result, countries face elevated refinancing risk, and many governments will spend a higher proportion of their budgets servicing debt – and facing greater fiscal constraints as a result – in the years ahead.
- Beyond the OECD countries, Emerging Market Economies (EMEs) also face historically high levels of outstanding debt and a similarly challenging market environment, further exacerbated by systemic dynamics common in some EME sovereign debt markets. EMEs generally face higher yields, less certain investor demand, and are more exposed to exchange rate risk. Reflecting these vulnerabilities, EME sovereign debt quality further declined between 2021 and 2022, with 40 rating downgrades centred most in Europe and Latin America.
- The Outlook also tracks the contribution of sovereign issuers in catalysing sustainable investment more broadly. The total stock of sustainable bonds now exceeds USD 325 billion, 75% of which are focused on climate and environmental projects. While the total value of sustainable bond issuance declined between 2021 and 2022, the number of countries issuing such instruments is expanding, with ten new countries in 2022 and a further four in the first quarter of 2023. Investor demand appears strong, and this momentum is expected to continue in the coming years.
2021 Outlook - excel data
2021 - excel data
2020 Special COVID-19 edition - excel data
2019 - Highlights - Key findings ppt
2018 - Highlights - Key findings ppt
2017 - Highlights
2016 highlights (pdf)
2011 highlights (pdf)
October 2010 (pdf)
January 2010 (pdf)
November 2009 (pdf)