Global debt is expected to soar to a record $277 trillion by the end of the year, according to the Institute of International Finance. Developed markets’ total debt -government, corporate and households- jumped to 432% of GDP in the third quarter. Emerging market debt-to-GDP hit nearly 250% in the third quarter, with China reaching 335%, and for the year the ratio is expected to reach about 365% of global GDP. Most of this massive increase of $15 trillion in one year comes from government and corporates’ response to the pandemic. However, we must remember that the total debt figure already reached record-highs in 2019 before any pandemic and in a period of growth.
The main problem is that most of this debt is unproductive debt. Governments are using the unprecedented fiscal space to perpetuate bloated current spending, which generates no real economic return, so the likely outcome will be that debt will continue to rise after the pandemic crisis is ended and that the level of growth and productivity achieved will not be enough to reduce the financial burden on public accounts.
In this context, The World Economic Forum has presented a roadmap for what has been called “The Great Reset”. It is a plan that aims to take the current opportunity to “to shape an economic recovery and the future direction of global relations, economies, and priorities”. According to the World Economic Forum, the world must also adapt to the current reality by “directing the market to fairer results, ensure investments are aimed at mutual progress including accelerating ecologically friendly investments, and to start a fourth industrial revolution, creating digital economic and public infrastructure”. These objectives are obviously shared by all of us, and the reality shows that the private sector is already implementing these ideas, as we see technology, renewable investments and sustainability plans thriving all over the world.
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