Bankruptcy Law, Credit, Debt Relief

Global Debt Exceeds Levels of 2008

A recent study by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) found that global debt, which includes the debts of governments, households and non-financial businesses, reached a record $152 trillion in 2015 – an amount much higher than before the 2008-2009 Great Recession.

While it seems everyone is fixated on the election, developments in the world economy threaten to create serious problems for the next presidential candidate. What is most concerning about this is that the global economic recovery has assumed widespread “deleveraging” – the repayment of debt by businesses and households.

It was assumed that these repayments would slow the economy. To reduce their debts, households would cut consumption and companies would cut investment. But once debts had receded to manageable levels, consumer and business spending would bounce back. The economy would accelerate.

Leading up to the Great Recession, the economy relied on debt-driven growth. People and firms could spend more, because they would borrow more. This was not only indicative in the United States with its housing bubble. Borrowing financed housing booms in Europe (Spain and the United Kingdom), consumer goods and investments in factories and machinery.

The IMF study fears “a vicious feedback loop”: High debts discourage more borrowing. A slowing economy then makes it harder to repay debts. The more that is borrowed, the more likely that borrowers, lenders – or both – will revert, further having a negative impact on economic growth and development.

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