Europe's debt divide laid bare in one map

A Greek exit from the eurozone may not be off the table yet

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The Independent Online

The long running Greek debt crisis left little doubt to the balance of power in Europe.

There were moments, such as during the Greek referendum, when it looked like Athens might pull off a miracle and find an alternative to signing up for decades of austerity at the hands of its European creditors.

Now the Greek parliament is slowly implementing reforms in line with Europe's demands and the imminent risk of crisis has been averted.

Credit: Fitch

A map created by Fitch, the ratings agency, lays out in bright colours the extent of the debt disparity - and who holds the purse strings when things start to go south.

Furthest North, Finland and Germany are rated AAA – or least likely to default on their debts. France and Austria make up the paler blue AA band across Europe’s middle, while Spain and Italy are green, for BBB. At the bottom, in brown, Greece is rated in the C’s.

Douglas Renwick, head of Western European Sovereigns, said that while Greece looked to be on the right track, the third bailout deal was still too shaky to say that the risk of a default has disappeared.

"It is far too soon to claim that the risk of ‘Grexit’ is off the table," Renwick said. He added that a default in Greece could spread to other countries with poor ratings, though it is unlikely to cause another global financial crisis.

The map shows that the European economy has generally improved. However public debt is still high by historical standards, which could weigh on further growth in the near future. And it doesn’t look like the debt disparity will be going away any time soon.