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Pandemic to push global debt to record $277 trillion by end-2020 – IIF

Global debt is expected to surge to a record $277 trillion, or 365% of GDP, by the end of 2020 due to the sharp increase in government and corporate borrowing in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a report from the Institute of International Finance.

Global debt rose by $15 trillion to a new record of more than $272 trillion in the first three quarters of 2020. Debt outside the financial sector is projected to reach $210 trillion this year, up from $194 trillion in 2019, led by the gains in nonfinancial sector debt in Canada, Japan and the U.S.

Emerging-market debt is forecast to rise to 210% of GDP in 2020 from 185% in 2019, according to the IIF. About $7 trillion of emerging market bonds and syndicated loans will be due through the end of 2021, 15% of which is in U.S. dollars.

The IIF said the global debt accumulation since 2016 has been the largest on record, outpacing the increase over the previous four-year periods.

"As a result, there is significant uncertainty about how the global economy can deleverage in the future without significant adverse implications for economic activity," the IFF said.

Global debt could exceed $360 trillion by 2030 — an increase of more than $85 trillion from current levels — if the debt pile continues to grow at the average pace of the last 15 years, the IIF estimated.