Some numbers are so big that they seem unreal, like the amount of debt that governments, companies, and consumers have added since the pandemic began.
The Institute of International Finance’s global debt monitor estimated government support programs had accounted for half of the rise, while global firms, banks and households added $5.4 trillion, $3.9 trillion and $2.6 trillion respectively.
It has meant that debt as a ratio of world economic output known as gross domestic product surged by 35 percentage points to over 355% of GDP… in just one year!
That upswing is well beyond the rise seen during the global financial crisis, when 2008 and 2009 saw 10 percentage points and 15 percentage points respective debt-to-GDP jumps, and there’s no sign of an end.
The IIF report said:
“We expect global government debt to increase by another $10 trillion this year and surpass $92 trillion. Political and social pressure could limit governments’ efforts to reduce deficits and debt, jeopardizing their ability to cope with future crises. This could also constrain policy responses to mitigate the adverse impacts of climate change and natural capital loss.”
The rapid build-up in Europe was mostly driven by governments, particularly in Greece, Spain, Britain and Canada. Switzerland was the only mature market economy in the IIF’s 61-country analysis to record a decline in its debt ratio.
In emerging markets, China saw the biggest rise in debt ratios excluding banks, followed by Turkey, Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. South Africa and India recorded the largest increases just in terms of government debt ratios.