The impact of COVID-19 caused global public and private debt to reach record highs in 2021, although overall it remained significantly higher than pre-pandemic levels, according to a report released on Monday by the International Monetary Fund.
The IMF reported that overall public and private debt declined by 10 percentage points to 247% of global gross domestic product in 2021 from its peak of 257% in 2020 in a blog published alongside the publication of its first Global Debt Monitor. Comparatively, that amounts to roughly 195% of GDP in 2007, before to the world financial crisis.
In dollar terms, global debt continued to rise, although at a much slower rate, reaching a record $235 trillion last year.
The global lender said private debt, which includes non-financial corporate and household obligations, drove the overall reduction, decreasing by 6 percentage points to 153% of GDP, citing data for 190 countries.
The drop of 4 percentage points for public debt, to 96 percent of GDP, was the largest such drop in decades, it said.
The unusually large swings in debt ratios – or “global debt rollercoaster” – were caused by the economic rebound from COVID-19 and the ensuring swift rise in inflation, the IMF said.