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Global Debt Surges Above $250 Trillion as U.S., China Lead Way

Ben Holland
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Global Debt Surges Above $250 Trillion as U.S., China Lead Way

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Global debt hit a fresh record above $250 trillion in the first half of 2019, with China and the U.S. accounting for more than 60% of new borrowing, the Institute of International Finance said.

Borrowing by governments, households and non-financial business now accounts for more than 240% of the world’s gross domestic product, and it’s growing faster than the global economy, the Washington-based IIF said in a report published Thursday.

In developed countries, it’s governments that account for the bulk of borrowing over the past decade, the IIF said. In emerging markets, companies have taken the lead -- but more than half of corporate debt in those countries is likely held by state-owned businesses.

The report cited limits and risks attached to debt-fueled economic growth. It said that emerging markets that have increasingly relied on foreign-currency borrowing -- including Turkey, Mexico and Chile -- may be exposed to risks if growth slows further.

And it said that “high-debt countries that also have high exposure to climate risk” -- like Japan, Singapore, Korea and the U.S. -- may struggle with the rapid increase in funding that the fight against climate change will require.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ben Holland in Washington at bholland1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Simon Kennedy at skennedy4@bloomberg.net, Jeff Kearns

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