Global debt rose to a record $237 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2017, more than $70 trillion higher than a decade earlier, according to an analysis by the Institute of International Finance. At the same time, the ratio of debt-to-gross domestic product fell for the fifth consecutive quarter as the world’s economic growth accelerated. The ratio is now around 317.8 percent of GDP, or 4 percentage points below the high in the third quarter of 2016, according to the IIF.
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The world is awash with $152 trillion dollars of debt, according to the IMF, an all-time high which sits at more than double the balance at the start of this century. This debt mountain, as of 2015, represents 225 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), up from 200 percent in 2002 and signifies the extent to which increases in borrowing have outpaced economic growth during the period. While the Washington D.C.-based organization emphasized that there is no exact science to knowing how much debt is too much, it has urged governments in certain countries to tackle excessive private debt levels.
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How much money exists in the world? Strangely enough, there are multiple answers to this question, and the amount of money that exists changes depending on how we define it. The more abstract definition of money we use, the higher the number is. In this data visualization of the world’s total money supply, we wanted to not only compare the different definitions of money, but to also show powerful context for this information. That’s why we’ve also added in recognizable benchmarks such as the wealth of the richest people in the world, the market capitalizations of the largest publicly-traded companies, the value of all stock markets, and the total of all global debt.
The end result is a hierarchy of information that ranges from some of the smallest markets (Bitcoin = $5 billion, Silver above-ground stock = $14 billion) to the world’s largest markets (Derivatives on a notional contract basis = somewhere in the range of $630 trillion to $1.2 quadrillion). In between those benchmarks is the total of the world’s money, depending on how it is defined. This includes the global supply of all coinage and banknotes ($5 trillion), the above-ground gold supply ($7.8 trillion), the narrow money supply ($28.6 trillion), and the broad money supply ($80.9 trillion). All figures are in the equivalent of US dollars.
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“Global debt has grown by $57 trillion and no major economy has decreased its debt-to-GDP ratio since 2007. High government debt in advanced economies, mounting household debt, and the rapid rise of China’s debt are areas of potential concern. Seven years after the bursting of a global credit bubble resulted in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, debt continues to grow. In fact, rather than reducing indebtedness, or deleveraging, all major economies today have higher levels of borrowing relative to GDP than they did in 2007. Global debt in these years has grown by $57 trillion, raising the ratio of debt to GDP by 17 percentage points (see Exhibit 1 below). That poses new risks to financial stability and may undermine global economic growth.
Exhibit 1. Since the Great Recession, global debt has increased by $57 trillion, outpacing world GDP growth.
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