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Visualizing $65 Trillion in Hidden Dollar Debt

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Visualizing $65 Trillion in Hidden Dollar Debt

Visualizing $65 Trillion in Hidden Dollar Debt

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The scale of hidden dollar debt around the world is huge.

No less than $65 trillion in unrecorded dollar debt circulates across the global financial system in non-U.S. banks and shadow banks. To put in perspective, global GDP sits at $104 trillion.

This dollar debt is in the form of foreign-exchange swaps, which have exploded over the last decade due to years of monetary easing and ultra-low interest rates, as investors searched for higher yields. Today, unrecorded debt from these foreign-exchange swaps is worth more than double the dollar debt officially recorded on balance sheets across these institutions.

Based on analysis from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), the above infographic charts the rise in hidden dollar debt across non-U.S. financial institutions and examines the wider implications of its growth.

Dollar Debt: A Beginners Guide

To start, we will briefly look at the role of foreign-exchange (forex) swaps in the global economy. The forex market is the largest in the world by a long stretch, with trillions traded daily.

Some of the key players that use foreign-exchange swaps are:

  • Corporations
  • Financial institutions
  • Central banks

To understand forex swaps is to look at the role of currency risk. As we have seen in 2022, the U.S. dollar has been on a tear. When this happens, it hurts company earnings that generate revenue across borders. Thatโ€™s because they earn revenue in foreign currencies (which have likely declined in value against the dollar) but end up converting earnings to U.S. dollars.

In order to reduce currency risk, market participants will buy forex swaps. Here, two parties agree to exchange one currency for another. In short, this helps protect the company from unfavorable foreign exchange rates.

Whatโ€™s more, due to accounting rules, forex swaps are often unrecorded on balance sheets, and as a result are quite opaque.

A Mountain of Debt

Since 2008, the value of this opaque, unrecorded dollar debt has nearly doubled.

Date
Non-U.S. Bank
Unrecorded Debt
Non-U.S. Shadow Bank
Unrecorded Debt
2022*$39.4T$26.0T
2021$37.1T$25.0T
2020$34.5T$22.9T
2019$32.9T$21.5T
2018$32.4T$20.1T
2017$31.2T$18.8T
2016$27.9T$17.0T
2015$25.1T$15.6T
2014$30.0T$17.0T
2013$30.8T$15.7T
2012$28.9T$15.9T
2011$27.5T$14.7T
2010$24.8T$15.0T
2009$21.4T$12.1T
2008$21.9T$12.4T

*As of June 30, 2022

Driving its rise in part was an era of rock-bottom interest rates globally. As investors sought out higher returns, they took on greater leverageโ€”and forex swaps are one example of this.

Now, as interest rates have been rising, forex swaps have increased amid higher market volatility as investors look to hedge currency risk. This appears in both non-U.S. banks and non-U.S. shadow banks, which are unregulated financial intermediaries.

Overall, the value of unrecorded debt is staggering. An estimated $39 trillion is held by non-U.S. banks along with $26 trillion in overseas shadow banks around the world.

Past Case Studies

Why does the massive growth in dollar debt present risks?

During the market crashes of 2008 and 2020, forex swaps faced a funding squeeze. To borrow U.S. dollars, market participants had to pay high rates. A lot of this hinged on the impact of extreme volatility on these swaps, putting pressure on funding rates.

Here are two examples of how volatility can heighten risk in the forex market:

  • Exchange-rate volatility: Sharp swings in USD can spur a liquidity crunch
  • U.S. interest-rate volatility: Sudden rate fluctuations can mean much higher costs for these trades

In both cases, the U.S. central bank had to step in to provide liquidity in the market and prevent dollar shortages. This was done through pumping cash into the system and creating swap lines with other non-U.S. banks such as the Bank of Canada or the Bank of Japan. These were designed to protect from declining currency values and a liquidity crunch.

Dollar Debt: The Wider Implications

The risk from growing dollar debt and these swap lines arises when a non-U.S. bank or shadow bank may not be able to hold up their end of the agreement. In fact, on a daily basis, there is an estimated $2.2 trillion in forex swaps exposed to settlement risk.

Given its vast scale, this dollar debt could have greater systemic spillover effects. If participants fail to pay it could undermine financial market stability. Because demand for U.S. dollars increases during market uncertainty, a worsening economic climate could potentially expose the forex market to more vulnerabilities.

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Visualizing $97 Trillion of Global Debt in 2023

Global debt has soared since the pandemic. Which countries have the biggest stockpile of debt outstanding in 2023?

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Visualizing $97 Trillion of Government Debt in 2023

Global government debt is projected to hit $97.1 trillion this year, a 40% increase since 2019.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, governments introduced sweeping financial measures to support the job market and prevent a wave of bankruptcies. However, this has exposed vulnerabilities as higher interest rates are amplifying borrowing costs.

This graphic shows global debt by country in 2023, based on projections from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Debt by Country in 2023

Below, we rank countries by their general government gross debt, or the financial liabilities owed by each country:

CountryGross Debt (B)% of World TotalDebt to GDP
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ U.S.$33,228.934.2%123.3%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China$14,691.715.1%83.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan$10,797.211.1%255.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง UK$3,468.73.6%104.1%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France$3,353.93.5%110.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy$3,141.43.2%143.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India$3,056.73.1%81.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany$2,919.33.0%65.9%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada$2,253.32.3%106.4%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ท Brazil$1,873.71.9%88.1%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain$1,697.51.7%107.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico$954.61.0%52.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea$928.11.0%54.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia$875.90.9%51.9%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Singapore$835.00.9%167.9%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ช Belgium$665.20.7%106.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ท Argentina$556.50.6%89.5%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia$552.80.6%39.0%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands$540.90.6%49.5%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland$419.40.4%49.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece$407.20.4%168.0%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Tรผrkiye$397.20.4%34.4%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia$394.80.4%21.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria$393.60.4%74.8%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ฌ Egypt$369.30.4%92.7%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland$357.70.4%39.5%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand$314.50.3%61.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel$303.60.3%58.2%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡น Portugal$299.40.3%108.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ Malaysia$288.30.3%66.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ฆ South Africa$280.70.3%73.7%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฐ Pakistan$260.90.3%76.6%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia$257.70.3%24.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ช Ireland$251.70.3%42.7%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ Philippines$250.90.3%57.6%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland$225.00.2%73.6%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway$204.50.2%37.4%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ด Colombia$200.10.2%55.0%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ผ Taiwan$200.00.2%26.6%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden$192.90.2%32.3%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania$178.70.2%51.0%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฉ Bangladesh$175.90.2%39.4%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Ukraine$152.80.2%88.1%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czech Republic$152.20.2%45.4%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Nigeria$151.30.2%38.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช UAE$149.70.2%29.4%
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam$147.30.2%34.0%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary$140.00.1%68.7%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Chile$132.20.1%38.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark$126.70.1%30.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ถ Iraq$125.50.1%49.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Algeria$123.50.1%55.1%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฟ New Zealand$115.00.1%46.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ท Iran$112.10.1%30.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Morocco$102.70.1%69.7%
๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar$97.50.1%41.4%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ช Peru$89.70.1%33.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ด Angola$79.60.1%84.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ช Kenya$79.10.1%70.2%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia$75.40.1%56.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ด Dominican Republic$72.10.1%59.8%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡จ Ecuador$65.90.1%55.5%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Sudan$65.50.1%256.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ญ Ghana$65.10.1%84.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Kazakhstan$60.70.1%23.4%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡น Ethiopia$59.00.1%37.9%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ญ Bahrain$54.50.1%121.2%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ท Costa Rica$53.90.1%63.0%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia$51.20.1%63.8%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡พ Uruguay$47.00.0%61.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ด Jordan$46.90.0%93.8%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia$46.80.0%68.5%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Cรดte d'Ivoire$45.10.0%56.8%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฆ Panama$43.50.0%52.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Myanmar$43.00.0%57.5%
๐Ÿ‡ด๐Ÿ‡ฒ Oman$41.40.0%38.2%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ณ Tunisia$39.90.0%77.8%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ Serbia$38.50.0%51.3%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ด Bolivia$37.80.0%80.8%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฟ Tanzania$35.80.0%42.6%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Uzbekistan$31.70.0%35.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฟ๐Ÿ‡ผ Zimbabwe$30.90.0%95.4%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡พ Belarus$30.40.0%44.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡น Guatemala$29.10.0%28.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania$28.70.0%36.1%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ป El Salvador$25.80.0%73.0%
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Uganda$25.30.0%48.3%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ณ Senegal$25.20.0%81.0%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡พ Cyprus$25.20.0%78.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡บ Luxembourg$24.60.0%27.6%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong SAR$23.50.0%6.1%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ Bulgaria$21.70.0%21.0%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Cameroon$20.60.0%41.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Mozambique$19.70.0%89.7%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ท Puerto Rico$19.60.0%16.7%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ต Nepal$19.30.0%46.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia$18.90.0%40.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland$18.70.0%61.2%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡พ Paraguay$18.10.0%40.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Lao P.D.R.$17.30.0%121.7%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ณ Honduras$15.70.0%46.3%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฌ Papua New Guinea$15.70.0%49.5%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡น Trinidad and Tobago$14.60.0%52.5%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Albania$14.50.0%62.9%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Republic of Congo$14.10.0%97.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Azerbaijan$14.10.0%18.2%
๐Ÿ‡พ๐Ÿ‡ช Yemen$14.00.0%66.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Jamaica$13.60.0%72.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ณ Mongolia$13.10.0%69.9%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ซ Burkina Faso$12.70.0%61.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Gabon$12.50.0%64.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ช Georgia$11.90.0%39.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡บ Mauritius$11.80.0%79.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Armenia$11.80.0%47.9%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ธ Bahamas$11.70.0%84.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Mali$11.00.0%51.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡น Malta$11.00.0%54.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ Cambodia$10.90.0%35.3%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฏ Benin$10.60.0%53.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ผ Malawi$10.40.0%78.6%
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia$9.00.0%21.6%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Democratic Republic of Congo$9.00.0%13.3%
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ผ Rwanda$8.80.0%63.3%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Namibia$8.50.0%67.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Madagascar$8.50.0%54.0%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ช Niger$8.30.0%48.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฐ North Macedonia$8.20.0%51.6%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฆ Bosnia and Herzegovina$7.70.0%28.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ป Maldives$7.70.0%110.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ณ Guinea$7.30.0%31.6%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Nicaragua$7.20.0%41.5%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ง Barbados$7.20.0%115.0%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฌ Togo$6.10.0%67.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Kyrgyz Republic$6.00.0%47.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Moldova$5.60.0%35.1%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฉ Chad$5.40.0%43.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ผ Kuwait$5.40.0%3.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ท Mauritania$5.10.0%49.5%
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡น Haiti$5.10.0%19.6%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡พ Guyana$4.90.0%29.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ช Montenegro$4.60.0%65.8%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Fiji$4.60.0%83.6%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฒ Turkmenistan$4.20.0%5.1%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฏ Tajikistan$4.00.0%33.5%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ผ Botswana$3.90.0%18.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ถ Equatorial Guinea$3.80.0%38.3%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ท Suriname$3.80.0%107.0%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ธ South Sudan$3.80.0%60.4%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡น Bhutan$3.30.0%123.4%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ผ Aruba$3.20.0%82.9%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Sierra Leone$3.10.0%88.9%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ป Cabo Verde$2.90.0%113.1%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฎ Burundi$2.30.0%72.7%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ท Liberia$2.30.0%52.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฝ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Kosovo$2.20.0%21.3%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Eswatini$2.00.0%42.4%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฟ Belize$1.90.0%59.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡จ Saint Lucia$1.80.0%74.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Gambia$1.70.0%72.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Djibouti$1.60.0%41.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฌ Antigua and Barbuda$1.60.0%80.5%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฒ San Marino$1.50.0%74.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ผ Guinea-Bissau$1.50.0%73.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ธ Lesotho$1.50.0%61.3%
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Andorra$1.40.0%37.7%
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ซ Central African Republic$1.40.0%50.1%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡จ Seychelles$1.30.0%60.8%
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡จ Saint Vincent and the Grenadines$0.90.0%86.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Grenada$0.80.0%60.2%
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Dominica$0.70.0%93.9%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ณ Saint Kitts and Nevis$0.60.0%53.2%
๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡บ Vanuatu$0.50.0%46.8%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Comoros$0.50.0%33.3%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡น Sรฃo Tomรฉ and Prรญncipe$0.40.0%58.5%
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ง Solomon Islands$0.40.0%22.2%
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ณ Brunei Darussalam$0.30.0%2.3%
๐Ÿ‡ผ๐Ÿ‡ธ Samoa$0.30.0%36.2%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ฑ Timor-Leste$0.30.0%16.4%
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ผ Palau$0.20.0%85.4%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ด Tonga$0.20.0%41.1%
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฒ Micronesia$0.10.0%12.5%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ญ Marshall Islands$0.10.0%18.1%
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ท Nauru<$0.10.0%29.1%
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Kiribati<$0.10.0%13.1%
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ป Tuvalu<$0.10.0%8.0%
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ด Macao SAR<$0.10.0%0.0%
๐ŸŒ World$97,129.8100%93.0%

With $33.2 trillion in government debt, the U.S. makes up over a third of the world total.

Given the increasing debt load, the cost of servicing this debt now accounts for 20% of government spending. It is projected to reach $1 trillion by 2028, surpassing the total spent on defense.

The worldโ€™s third-biggest economy, Japan, has one of the highest debt to GDP ratios, at 255%. Over the last two decades, its national debt has far exceeded 100% of its GDP, driven by an aging population and social security expenses.

In 2023, Egypt faces steep borrowing costs, with 40% of revenues going towards debt repayments. It has the highest debt on the continent.

Like Egypt, several emerging economies are facing strain. Lebanon has been in default since 2020, and Ghana defaulted on the majority of its external debtโ€”debt owed to foreign lendersโ€”in 2022 amid a deepening economic crisis.

Global Debt: A Regional Perspective

How does debt compare on a regional level in 2023?

RegionGross Debt (B)% of World TotalDebt to GDP
North America$36,451.837.5%117.6%
Asia and Pacific$34,257.435.3%92.5%
Europe$20,123.420.7%79.1%
South America$3,164.93.3%77.2%
Africa $1,863.61.9%65.2%
Other/Rest of World$1,269.11.3%31.4%

We can see that North America has both the highest debt and debt to GDP compared to other regions. Just as U.S. debt has ballooned, so has Canadaโ€™sโ€”ranking as the 10th-highest globally in government debt outstanding.

Across Asia and the Pacific, debt levels hover close to North America.

At 3.3% of the global total, South America has $3.2 trillion in debt. As inflation has trended downwards, a handful of governments have already begun cutting interest rates. Overall, public debt levels are projected to stay elevated across the region.

Debt levels have also risen rapidly in Africa, with an average 40% of public debt held in foreign currenciesโ€”leaving it exposed to exchange rate fluctuations. Another challenge is that interest rates are also higher across the region compared to advanced economies, increasing debt-servicing costs.

By 2028, the IMF projects that global public debt will exceed 100% of GDP, hitting levels only seen during the pandemic.

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