While policymakers in the United States wrestle with a growing federal budget deficit, America isn’t alone in facing soaring government debt. According to the International Monetary Fund, the level of global debt is at historic…
While policymakers in the United States wrestle with a growing federal budget deficit, America isn’t alone in facing soaring government debt.
According to the International Monetary Fund, the level of global debt is at historic highs, reaching $164 trillion in 2016. Debt in advanced economies peaked at 105 percent of the gross domestic product, or GDP, the highest level since World War II, while the total debt is at 225 percent of the world’s GDP. Overall, the world has amassed $247 trillion in debt, with $63 trillion owed by central governments, according to a report put together by Visual Capitalist, a Canadian digital media company.
The United States, Japan and China report the biggest shares of overall global debt. Using data from the IMF, the Visual Capitalist report states that the U.S. reports having $20 trillion in government debt, which is nearly a third of the overall global debt pool. Japan follows with about 19 percent of the global debt, while China, one of the leading economies by growth, owes about 8 percent of world’s debt.
The report highlights Japan as a special case, with its debt reaching 239 percent of its own GDP. A similar situation is reported by Greece, which has a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 200 percent and owes 0.6 percent of the world’s debt.
“The IMF warns that if Greece continues at its current pace, debt-to-GDP will hit a whopping 275 percent by 2060,” the report states.
Other big borrowers include Italy, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, which each owe a little less than 4 percent of the world’s debt. They are followed by India, which owes 2.5 percent of the global debt, Canada with 2.3 percent, and Brazil with 2.2 percent.
The United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Lebanon are lowest on the Visual Capitalist list, with each owing 0.1 percent of the world’s debt. And while Lebanon ranks low in the list of overall global debt share, its actual debt-to-GDP ratio is at about 150 percent.
The rising level of debt worldwide is due in large part to governments failing to curb policies enacted in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis, according to one World Bank researcher. The level of debt poses a growing risk for all nations, Christine Lagarde, the IMF’s managing director, warned earlier this year.
The authors of a report in the April 2018 issue of the IMF publication Fiscal Monitor reinforced Lagarde’s view. “High government debt and deficits are cause for concern,” they wrote. “Countries with elevated government debt are vulnerable to a sudden tightening of global financing conditions, which could disrupt market access and put economic activity in jeopardy.”
More encouraging, the same countries that hold the highest shares of global debt are also those making the most economic progress, shows the Visual Capitalist report, using data from the World Bank. The economic growth in China adds up to 35.2 percent of the global economic growth in 2017-2019, Visual Capitalist writes. The U.S. comes second with a share of 17.9 percent in the total economic growth. The third-fastest growing economy in the world is India, accounting for 8.6 percent of the global economic growth.