Rising global debt holding back growth, opening up vulnerabilities: central bank

Written by on March 14, 2019

OTTAWA — The Bank of Canada’s senior deputy governor says an explosion of global debt over the last decade is a top concern that she argues is holding back economic growth and creating vulnerabilities in the world’s financial system.

In prepared remarks of a speech Thursday in Vancouver, Carolyn Wilkins says the global financial system is in better shape than it was before the 2007 crisis — but she warns that unknowns such as ongoing U.S.-China trade tensions could knock things off course.

Wilkins stresses that high debt loads can also amplify the impacts of any economic downturn.

She says the combined global debt owed by governments, businesses and households now amounts to US$240 trillion — which is US$100 trillion higher than just before the financial crisis and more than three times the world’s gross domestic product.

Wilkins says debt levels around the world piled higher largely because of the long stretch of extremely low borrowing rates that was necessary to help global growth build fresh momentum.

She says Canada’s high household debt — which is now more than 178 per cent of disposable income — is the central bank’s top domestic financial vulnerability.

The Canadian Press

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