Many countries entered the pandemic with elevated debt levels. Our new update of the IMF’s Global Debt Database shows that global debt—public plus private—reached $197 trillion in 2019, up by $9 trillion from the previous year. This substantial debt created challenges for countries that faced a debt surge in 2020, as economic activity collapsed and governments acted swiftly to provide support during the pandemic.
Higher debt can potentially reduce the ability of governments to react to the COVID-19 crisis.
Our data show that the global average debt-to-GDP ratio (weighted by each country’s GDP in US dollars) rose to 226 percent in 2019, 1.5 percentage points higher than in 2018. Most of the increase came from higher public debt in emerging market economies and advanced economies outside of Europe. In low-income countries, total debt rose by 1.3 percentage points of GDP in 2019—mostly driven, in contrast, by higher private debt.
As shown in our chart of the week, a dive into the numbers reveals that the 2019 global public debt surpassed its 2007 level by 23 percentage points of GDP. This is primarily driven by the higher […]
The COVID-19 pandemic pushed economies into a Great Lockdown, which helped contain the virus and save lives, but also triggered the worst recession since the Great Depression. Over 75 percent of countries are now reopening at the same time as the pandemic is intensifying in many emerging market and developing economies. […]
The world has changed dramatically in the three months since our last update of the World Economic Outlook in January. A rare disaster, a coronavirus pandemic, has resulted in a tragically large number of human lives being lost. […]
This blog is part of a special series on the response to the coronavirus.
This health crisis will have a significant economic fallout, reflecting shocks to supply and demand different from past crises. Substantial targeted policies are needed to support the economy through the epidemic, keeping intact the web of economic and financial relationships between workers and businesses, lenders and borrowers, and suppliers and end-users for activity to recover once the outbreak fades. The goal is to prevent a temporary crisis from permanently harming people and firms through job losses and bankruptcies. […]
November 19, 2018
This blog is dedicated to the memory of Giang Ho, an IMF economist who died suddenly this past August. Her efforts and ingenuity were critical to carrying out this analytical work. We miss her and will never forget her.
November 15, 2018
A drilling crew member raises a pipe on an oil rig in Texas: Energy is among the industries in which leveraged lending is most prevalent, along with telecommunications, health care, and technology (photo: Nick Oxford/Reuters/Newscom)