World’s debt exceeds $86,000 per person: IMF

Updated December 16, 2018

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Global debt hits all-time high of $184 trillion. ─ Reuters/File
Global debt hits all-time high of $184 trillion. ─ Reuters/File

WASHINGTON: The In­­ter­­national Monetary Fund (IMF) pointed out that global debt has reached an all-time high of $184 trillion, in a recent updation of its Global Debt Database on Friday.

The data showed that on an average, the world’s debt now exceeds $86,000 per person — more than two and half times the average income per-capita.

The updated figure equals 225 per cent of the global GDP in 2017.

“The top three borrowers in the world (United States, China, and Japan) account for more than half of global debt, exceeding their share of global output,” said an IMF statement released with the data.

The dataset comprises total gross debt of the (private and public) nonfinancial sector for an unbalanced panel of 190 advanced economies, emerging market economies and low-income countries, dating back to 1950. The update offers for the first time a glimpse of global debt developments up to 2017.

“By including both the sovereign and private sides of borrowing for the entire world, the database offers an unprecedented picture of global debt in the post-World War II era,” said a statement issued with the data.

The figure released on Friday — $184tr — is $2tr higher than the estimated number IMF released in October, because it includes end of 2017 data and the debts of several countries who had not previously reported their updated data.

On Dec 1, the IMF had put the global debt at $182tr, warning highly indebted emerging-markets and low-income countries against what it termed pro-cyclical fiscal policies.

In a recent speech at the G20 summit in Argentina, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde, identified rising global debt as one of the challenges that world leaders had to address.

She said she was concerned that the total value of global debt has rocketed by 60 per cent in the decade since the financial crisis reached an all-time high. The build-up has made governments and business in the developing world more vulnerable to higher US interest rates, which could trigger a flight of funds and destabilise their economies.

Published in Dawn, December 16th, 2018