January 2, 2019
Until recently, we had a partial view of global debt. Our new update to the IMF’s Global Debt Database, first made public in May 2018, now fills even more of the gaps. We have compiled data on public and private debt for 190 countries, dating back to 1950, which now includes the latest numbers for 2017.

We make these data free and publicly available for all to use because we believe transparency can help create better public policy.

The long view

In the past, we had detailed information about some bigger economies, such as the United States and Japan, but existing databases either covered a narrow measure of debt—for example, bank credit—for a broad sample of countries, or a comprehensive one for a few countries and years. By including both the government and private sides of borrowing for the entire world, the Global Debt Database offers an unprecedented picture of global debt in the post-World War II era. From all these data we have gathered a few new insights on debt:

  • Global debt has reached an all-time high of $184 trillion in nominal terms, the equivalent of 225 percent of GDP in 2017. On average, the world’s debt now exceeds $86,000 in per capita terms, which is more than 2½ times the average income per-capita.
  • The most indebted economies in the world are also the richer ones. You can explore this more in the interactive chart below. The top three borrowers in the world—the United States, China, and Japan—account for more than half of global debt, exceeding their share of global output.
  • The private sector’s debt has tripled since 1950. This makes it the driving force behind global debt. Another change since the global financial crisis has been the rise in private debt in emerging markets, led by China, overtaking advanced economies. At the other end of the spectrum, private debt has remained very low in low-income developing countries.
  • Global public debt, on the other hand, has experienced a reversal of sorts. After a steady decline up to the mid-1970s, public debt has gone up since, with advanced economies at the helm and, of late, followed by emerging and low-income developing countries. Den Rest des Beitrags lesen »