At £4.8 Trillion In Total Debt Including Unfunded Liabilities, UK Debt Is Six Times More Than The Official Number

Tyler Durden's picture

Everyone knows that the total US debt is over $120 trillion when accounting for such underfunded liabilities as Medicare and Social Security. Well, it appears that the bankrupt US welfare state is not alone. According to the UK's Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), the country's national debt is £4.8 trillion once state and public sector pension liabilities are included, or £78,000 for every person in the UK. This number translates to about 330% of UK's GDP. Which of course is nothing compared to the total US adjusted debt-to-GDP number which when accounting for all off balance sheet items is roughly 10x the US GDP of $13.6 trillion, a number which is Rosenberg and Bridgewater are correct, may decline quite soon.

The Telegraph has more:

The IEA raised its concerns after the latest public finances data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this week, which showed that the total debt, excluding bank bail-outs, is £816bn – itself a record high. However, the figures strip out the state's pension liabilities in a contravention of standard accounting practices.

Mark Littlewood, the IEA's director-general, said: "The latest official national debt figure is seriously misleading. Looming in the background are pension liabilities. These should be moved to the forefront.

"The ONS should include these liabilities in their calculations. It is shocking enough to see official figures revealing a jump in national debt over the last year from the equivalent of 48pc of GDP to 56pc, but the grave reality is that our real national debt stands at 333pc of GDP."

Nick Silver, an IEA research fellow, said the full figure, including the £1.2 trillion public sector pension liability and £2.7 trillion state pension liability, should be published either monthly or annually alongside the net debt data for reasons of transparency.

The ONS has already begun to assemble the data, publishing the full list of Britain's debts and liabilities for the first time in July, which came to a total of between £3.68 trillion and £4.84 trillion.

The ONS numbers included a £1 trillion to £1.5 trillion liability for the Government's stakes in the part-nationalised banks, equivalent to the relevant portion of their total liabilities, £1.35 trillion for state pension liabilities, and £1.2 trillion for public sector pensions.

At this point these statistics are just that- there is no hope any of these will ever be paid down. And with government spending soon to focus ever more on such things as paying down interest, instead of investing in what could truly push the economy to a new level such as R&D spending and incubating basic research at scholar centers, the world will continue to dig itself into an ever greater Ponzi hole until the massive debt load is no longer sustainable.

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trav7777's picture

Unfunded, bitchez

russki standart's picture

Brits are a bunch of focking wankers...

whatsinaname's picture

Maybe because they have been buying spades of US debt ?

Mitchman's picture

Yes.  And at a yield of 50 basis points they'll make up that shortfall in no time at all! :-)

Votewithabullet's picture

 Sun tzu @dabidC. If your enemy is angry... stick your finger in his butt.

DavidC's picture

That really is not funny any more.


PlausibleDenial's picture


You may want to consider ending your stop the "bitchez" campaign.  It only perpetuates the use of it.  More importantly, I have just added it to my lexicon with great success in an effort to communicate with the massess.  And, oh, my girlfriend likes it when I utter "gold bitchez".  Apparently she is thinking something to dangle while I am thinking of what may really dangle. 

Bullets bitchezzz


New_Meat's picture

besides-Trav is incurable lol - Ned

Double down's picture

While you are at it, front run this one as well: "beatchez".  The nuance is somewhat undefined, though I am inclined to see virtue in its expression.

nmewn's picture

David is one of my favorite bitchez.

cossack55's picture

All my cards are coming up spades.  This is not sustainable.

Implicit simplicit's picture

Jacks , Queens and Aces, their faces in debt

 the people and goverment made a bad bet.

New_Meat's picture


"All my cards are coming up spades.  This is not sustainable."

unexpectedly so, n'est ce pas?

- Ned


VonHavenstein's picture

The UK or Japan which of these old island empires will sink first?

Monkey Craig's picture

I've often wondered the same thing. There is a race to debase and I don't see how you win that game....the last one standing has toilet paper for currency.

The world needs some new growth platform. Maybe it is commodities, oil wells and fertilizer. Maybe it is biotech or maybe weapons manufacturers.

New_Meat's picture

Monkey- yes.  "race to debase".  That is why I'm thinking that USD will be the last currency standing-we'd suck less than the others.

But O says that growth is so last-century; your thesis is screwed until 2013 or so (but I agree with it, coming out of WWII, why the formula was-"GROWTH".

- Ned

zaknick's picture

How about a return to normal, decent capitalism where countries produce most of what they consume? This whole globalization schtick is a fascist scam. Jobs would boom.

New_Meat's picture

"... well, we really don't expect that."

Admirals are not paid to put up with that BS. don'tcha know.

- Ned

MrSteve's picture

The concluding phrase, "until the massive debt load is no longer sustainable" reminds me of setting off fireworks when we were kids: sometimes you get a cherry bomb or M-80 with a "fast fuse" and you had only instant reaction time to turn your face and fingers away from the 1/2 meter flash sphere. Debt sustainability seems to be very likely a problem subject to fast fuse surprises. 

Americans can always take pride in being number ONE, trouncing John Bull by a superior factor of 33 in excess spending.

Cognitive Dissonance's picture

Are you still in possession of all 10 fingers or did the 1/2 meter flash sphere claim a digit or two?

Eally Ucked's picture

For now it's unfunded liability but starting right about now it will morph into permanent and rising deficit for the next 20 years for all western countries.

Implicit simplicit's picture

Its gonna be a long cold winter until 2020

Hang The Fed's picture

"Until" it's unsustainable?  You mean that it's not already?

Dismal Scientist's picture

Once you bring in unfunded liabilities for the public sector, every major global economy is terminally bankrupt. This is well known. Continuing the Ponzi is the dumbest idea ever, but they're still doing it. Everyone's favourite economist, Ludwig von Mises, said it best:

“There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought about by credit expansion. The alternative is only whether the crisis should come sooner as the result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency involved.”

See you in hell, bitchez

A Man without Qualities's picture

One of the unintented consequences of QE is that by buying Gilts and therefore capping yields, it actually increases the deficit substantially, by making the present value of these unfunded deficits far higher.  So, this is a perfect example of a policy which may makes things better on an accrual basis (central authorities prefer to think from year to year) and also looks ok from an "official debt" basis, but we know the deficits are like an iceberg, with 90% hidden under the surface through non-funded obligations.  These costs have been out of sight and out of mind for decades, but now we know that soon a mark to market problem will become a cash flow problem as the population aging increases the burden on the workers.


Slipmeanother's picture

One has to look slightly incredulous at the term "Gilts" must be the dry sense of British humor

midtowng's picture

The UK doesn't have a reserve currency, so I don't know why they still have a AAA rating and a relatively strong currency and low interest rates. The British Empire is long since over. Currency and bond traders seem to have overlooked that fact.

Dismal Scientist's picture

Sterling already experienced a devaluation in 2008 against all other majors. Recovery now in the short term is a function of austerity attempts and higher inflation than other countries leading to rising forward rate expectations. The Euro had its move this year in the same way, but lacks the rising inflation to help on relative forward rate expectations. USD turn comes next. Unless its Sterling's turn again. They're all worthless anyway.

midtowng's picture

The dollar will be the last fiat currency least until another monetary system arises. The Pound will fall, and when it does it will signal the start of the end.

sunny's picture

Good point.  Makes me wonder.  Given this observation and the fact that the US situation is worse, yet both countries enjoy AAA rating proves that our current rating agencies are useless...or worse.  Are there any rating agencies anywhere that deliver honest ratings of government bonds?

Just curious.


nmewn's picture

With the passage of Dodd's fin reg, most well known rating agencies issued a "do not listen to us" disclaimer to escape clauses within the new law. Again, our best and brightest at work for us.

Fitch is probably the best of the breed. But when sniffing different dog piles it hardly matters which dog wags his tail ;-)

New_Meat's picture

nmewn-come on-Fwank had skin (shudder) in that game-the Fwank-Dodd bill or FWOD bill.

Been finishing up on Mike Lewis "Big Short" book.  A whole part of the mess was S&P, Moodies, and Fitch, well they cycle paper through Fannie (Fwank's favorite) and Freddie and voila AAA rating.


- Ned

Implicit simplicit's picture

Great book. Did you see how the ratings agencies didn't use income for rating the worthiness of people trying to get mortgages, they just used data regarding  late or missed debt payments.

 So, if you were making$1000/mo you could qualify for a 200,000 mortgage if you hadn't been late on your credit card and other debt paymnets.

The credit agencies were patsies for gladman sucks and the other vultures. They gave them what they wanted because the ganster banksters hired them for other work.

Its just like the political con-bribe-utions, the impotent SEC, and the rest of the Ponzierosta

nmewn's picture

"nmewn-come on-Fwank had skin (shudder) in that game-the Fwank-Dodd bill"

Spewing coffee...thanks...LOL.

Fwank is a blubbering idiot who rapes the rich & poor alike. He is an equal opportunity offender who seems to delight in ruining poor peoples credit once and for all while calling for higher taxes to be imposed on those left standing. He-is-a-menace-to-society-at-large.

Dodd add's amendments to payout bonuses to AIG in the "shovel ready stimulus bill'' and then starts screeching about executive pay until someone points out his name on the amendment, then says oh never mind as his ole lady collects a check from a subsidary of AIG offshore.

It's incestuous really is.

Bow Tie's picture

that chinese agency did a fairer assessment, gave both the US and UK AA- with a 'negative' outlook...

breezer1's picture

rating agency , AAA is a political rating.

delbutler's picture

What do you mean we don't have a reserve currency ? Britain can print it's own money, just as the US can do via the Fed. We don't rely on the ECB like the rest of Europe. However, the fact that anyone can print their own cash still isn't going to save them from the currently fast approaching shitstorm, that is only slightly delayed by the fact that the US and UK can print their own loot.

nmewn's picture

Alternate headline;

Women & Children Hit Hardest As Equity Markets Crash

What are you standing around for Murphy?...we've got papers to peddle...get busy on that!

Implicit simplicit's picture

I guess the newspaper industry has been dying a slow death. The Washinton Post had been shored up by its online Kaplan schools division. However, that is about to change:

"Bets against shares of Washington Post Co. have increased to the highest level since at least 1991, as the federal government considers rules that could reduce revenue at its Kaplan education unit." (Bloomberg)



nmewn's picture

Yeah, I saw where they sold off Newsweek as well. I wonder if "a sort of god" will come down and save Evan Thomas' bacon at the helm ;-)

Crowded...but still a good short in my view, as long as taxpayer subsidy for drivel doesn't kick in.

I've got the NYT on my radar...I want to have a hand in grinding them into dust. Only in America...LOL.

Implicit simplicit's picture

The future alternate headlines will be blue toothed from the IPad boys device to the customers and a paypal account will be deducted accordingly.

The online schools might be in for another leg down also.