ICAEW chart of the week – Public debt

Ross Campbell, Director of Public Sector for ICAEW, writes:

“This week’s chart is on the subject of debt. Public debt.

This is the subject of a forthcoming report in the ICAEW’s Better Government Series, which examines the level of public debt around the world. It is not a pretty picture, with general government net debt (the most widely used measure) tripling since 2001 to reach almost £30tn this year.

According to data provided by the IMF, there are 76 indebted countries that together owe £42tn in gross debt, which nets to £29.4tn once cash and liquid financial assets are taken into account. £26.3tn or 90% of this is owed by just 12 countries – the US, Japan, Italy, France, the UK, Germany, Spain, Brazil, Mexico, Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands.

Proportionately, the UK has borrowed the most of the major developed countries, with an average annual increase over the last 17 years of 9.9%, followed by the US with 9.3%. This compares with more modest increases of 2.3% a year on average for Germany and 0.4% for Canada.

A decade after the corporate debt crisis, public debt is at an all-time high and continues to rise. The next debt crisis may well be one of public debt.

Do watch out for our report – it makes for a fascinating (and sobering) read.”

To comment on the ICAEW chart of the week, visit the ICAEW Talk Accountancy blog by clicking here.

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