Lukashenko says he may quit as president
Belarus hits EU with tit-for-tat sanctions
Belarusian police introduce colour-coded torture system for detained protesters
Kremlin publicly condemns Belarusian police brutality in hint of growing frustration with Lukashenko
Russian services PMI rises to 48.2, but remains underwater as recovery continues to slow
Russia to start mass vaccinations on December 7
Azerbaijan’s Aliyev calls on Armenia, Russia, Turkey and Iran to assist in creating Nakhchivan land corridor
FPRI BMB Russia: Sberbank releases a three-year transformation strategy to e-commerce concern
Ukraine’s banking sector continues recovery, but profits still lagging last year
Ukraine’s real wages up over 10% in October but have been stagnant in dollar terms for almost a year
FPRI BMB Ukraine: Public has confused opinions on resolving the Donbas conflict
Western Balkans plus Ukraine subsidised coal with over €900mn in 2018-2019
Estonian parcel robot firm Cleveron eyes €30mn state loan
Estonia’s chief auditor says €1bn in state COVID-19 loans issued haphazardly
Economic sentiment in CEE falls in November as recovery momentum splutters
Estonian animation studio Imepilt to hold IPO
Brighter days ahead: The economic bounce back in 2021
Central, Southeast Europe stock markets jump in anticipation of COVID-free future
VISEGRAD BLOG: An easing of trade tensions but still an uncertain situation for export-oriented Central Europe
Hungary's PM risks isolation as Poland mulls dropping EU budget veto
Poland ready to back down from veto of EU budget
Hungary's ruling party in damage control mode after MEP sex scandal bombshell
Poland’s PMI remains stuck just above the improvement line at 50.8 in November
Czech companies dominate this year’s Deloitte Technology Fast 50 CE
Coronacrisis to get worse before it gets better forecasts wiiw
EU diplomats say no chance of Bulgaria removing veto for Skopje to start EU accession talks
IMF says downside risks to Albanian economy are increasing
EU ministers fail to agree on launch of accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia
Western Balkans commit to green agenda and regional common market at Sofia summit
Bosnia’s opposition ousts nationalist parties in major cities
Bosnia’s main ethnic parties fight to hold onto power in local elections
Southeast Europe’s EU members to get biggest boost from next budget and recovery funds
Bulgaria imposes 3-week lockdown to slow down COVID-19 spread
CEE politicians highlight trade and security ties as they congratulate Biden
Breakaway Transnistria fully under Sheriff’s control as Obnovlenie party sweeps board in parliament election
Moldova’s presidential election is over, now the battle for the parliament begins
Moldova’s foreign policy reset
Russian establishment quick to congratulate Moldova's new president-elect
Rising COVID-19 cases put intense pressure on CEE healthcare systems
MEPs urge European Commission to act against Hungarian media financing in North Macedonia and Slovenia
North Macedonia mulls decriminalising cannabis to boost tourism
Retail surpass pre-crisis peak as Romanians shop instead of holiday
Romanian venture capital firm Catalyst launches new €40mn-50mn fund for TMT
Aegon to sell its CEE business to Vienna Insurance for €830mn
The state is back in business
Slovenian PM Jansa stands alongside Hungary and Poland in EU rule of law row
BEYOND THE BOSPORUS: Turkish number crunchers deliver November inflation surprise of 14%
Erdogan needs to go says analyst assessing Turkey’s economic collapse
Ukraine strikes deal with Turkey to produce killer drones instrumental in Karabakh conflict
In Karabakh deal, as many questions as answers
Protesters flood Yerevan demanding Armenia’s “traitor” PM quit over Nagorno-Karabakh surrender
Who emerge as the real winners from the bloody Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Below average 2020 wine production destined for volatile and uncertain global market
Iran calls on Saudis to limit $67bn defence spending to Tehran’s $10bn
Iranian prosecutors pledge to pursue Trump for Soleimani killing even after he leaves White House
No reaction from Kazakh elites as bombshell FT report says Nazarbayev’s son in law siphoned millions from pipeline scheme
UK court freezes $5bn in assets connected to fugitive Kazakh banker Ablyazov
Attack of the Debt Tsunami: global debt soars to a new all-time high
Kyrgyzstan's proposed new constitution provokes widespread revulsion
Kyrgyzstan's China debt: Between crowdfunding and austerity
CFC joins RWC in assessing KAZ Minerals buyout offer as under-valuation
China business briefing: Not happy with Kyrgyzstan
Mongolian coal exports to China paralysed as Beijing demands virus testing of truck drivers
Mongolia fears economic damage as country faces up to its first local transmissions of coronavirus
Mongolia in lockdown after suffering first local coronavirus transmissions
Mongolia’s wrestling culture: From the grasslands to the cage
No surprises in Tajikistan as Rahmon retains presidency with 91% of vote
A Tajikistan poised on verge of economic calamity set for vote
Tajikistan revives on-off dispute with Iran
Turkmenistan: The dammed united
Turkmenistan: Everybody yurts, sometimes
Dirty money investigation reviews identified payments worth $1.4bn linked to Turkmenistan
Uzbekistan unveils extensive privatisation programme
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The coronacrisis has sent already record high levels of global soaring to giddying new levels, reports the Institute of International Finance (IIF) in a note released on November 18.
Global debt is on track to exceed $277 trillion in 2020, or 365% of global GDP. Excluding the financial sector then debt will be a slightly more modest $210 trillion, but that is still 274% of global GDP and up from $194 trillion last year (240%).
“Spurred by a sharp rise in government and corporate borrowing as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, the global debt load increased by $15 trillion in the first three quarters of 2020 and now stands above $272 trillion. With little sign of a slowdown in debt issuance, we estimate that global debt will smash through records to hit $277 trillion by the end of the year,” Emre Tiftik, director of Sustainability Research, and Khadija Mahmood, associate economist of IIF, said in the note.
Most economists have become more sanguine in the last few weeks as a rash of vaccine clinical trial results have been released as the Phase III trials draw to a conclusion. The circa 90% efficacy of all the leading candidates is very encouraging, as the US FDA usually demands only a 50% efficacy to certify a vaccine and the EU 75%, so the 90%-plus efficacies being reported suggest the new anti-coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines are very effective. That means the pandemic may fade rapidly in the first quarter of 2021 and lead to a huge boost to the global economy as a year’s worth of pent up demand is released. It also means borrowing should fall off significantly.
Debt ratios should stabilise after a sharp surge in 2020, according to IIF: “Following a record surge in global debt-to-GDP (from 320% to around 362% in H1 2020), the rise in the third quarter of 2020 was more modest, at less than 2 percentage points – helped by the strong global recovery. We expect that the global debt-to-GDP ratio will reach some 365% of GDP in 2020.”
The surge in borrowing has been led by the Developed Markets (DM), which saw debt surpass 432% of GDP in in the third quarter of 2020, up by half from a year earlier. The US accounted for nearly half of the rise, with total debt on track to hit $80 trillion in 2020 – up from $71 trillion in 2019, IIF reports.
Government borrowing accounted for most of the increase, with general government borrowing up $3.7 trillion and non-financial sector corporate borrowing up $1.7 trillion.
The Eurozone also borrowed heavily, adding $1.5 trillion to government debt to bring the total outstanding debt to $53 trillion in the third quarter of 2020, although this is still a bit less than the all-time high of $55 trillion set in the wake of the last crisis in the second quarter of 2014. Debt in other mature markets rose by over $3.7 trillion to $65 trillion in the first three quarters of 2020.
The Emerging Markets (EM) have also been piling on debt, but at a slower pace. EM debt is fast approaching 250% of GDP, up from 222% in the fourth quarter of 2019 to reach 248% in the third quarter of 2020.
Most of the EM debt is dollar-denominated and worth $76 trillion, although countries like Russia have moved to reduce the share of dollar-denominated debt and have been trying to promote the settlement of international trade contracts in other currencies.
Most of the rise was driven by a surge in non-financial corporate debt in China. Excluding China, the dollar value of EM debt declined from $31 trillion in the fourth quarter of 2019 to $29.3 trillion in the third quarter of 2020. The fall in the debt had more to do with exchange rate dynamics and widespread devaluations vs the dollar than to deleveraging in EMs.
Governments accounted for 60% of the $12 trillion build-up in the world’s debt pile outside the financial sector, with corporates accounting for another $4.3 trillion to reach a fresh all-time high of near $80 trillion. In addition, household debt rose by $500bn to almost hit $50 trillion.
The most active borrowers are also some of the world’s biggest economies: Canada, Japan and the US have seen the biggest increases in non-financial sector debt this year, reports IIF, with the rise in debt-to-GDP ratios varying from 45 percentage points in the US to over 75 percentage points in Canada.
Most of the DMs have long since smashed through the Maastricht criteria of capping debt-to-GDP levels at 60% of GDP and many of Europe’s governments are already at double this level. However, with global interest rates at near-zero levels money is effectively free and so this debt can simply be rolled over ad infinitum.
“Across mature markets, government debt has again been the main driver of the rise, increasing the most in Canada, Japan, the US, the UK and Spain. Of note, Ireland is the only country in our sample to see a decline in the total debt ratio, as declines in household and non-financial corporate debt offset the rise in government debt,” IIF said. “Lebanon, China, Malaysia and Turkey have seen the biggest increases in non-financial sector debt ratios since 2019 amongst EMs. While sharp economic contractions drove surging debt ratios in many cases (notably in Lebanon), the dollar value of debt also rose sharply in China, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Philippines and Turkey over the first three quarters of 2020. The rise in non-financial corporate debt in China – from 150% of GDP in Q3 2019 to over 165% in in the third quarter of 2020 – has been striking. We estimate that China’s total debt-to-GDP topped 335% of GDP – vs 200% of GDP in 2011.”
Rising EM debt service burdens
The soaring debt will present EMs with debt servicing burdens that are already starting to appear. As bne IntelliNews reported, the first problem of the newly installed Kyrgyz government will be how to deal with its debt to China. While Russia doesn't have any debt at all at federal level, its regions are close to bankruptcy as they struggle to absorb the economic shock caused by the coronacrisis.
Corporates have taken advantage of central banks' massive monetary policy response to the pandemic to lock in lower funding costs at longer-than-average maturities, says IIF.
“With short-term debt securities accounting for over 45% of total issuance in mature markets, lower policy rates have also slashed borrowing costs for governments – a big benefit given widespread COVID-related revenue losses,” says IIF. “In emerging markets, however, these revenue losses have made [the] debt service burden much more onerous –despite the benefit from lower borrowing costs. We estimate that some $7 trillion of EM debt will come due through end-2021, with dollar-denominated debt representing 15% of the total.”
Looming global debt crisis?
The pace of global debt accumulation has been unprecedented since 2016, increasing by over $52 trillion. While some $15 trillion of this surge has been recorded in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the debt build-up over the past four years has far outstripped the $6 trillion rise over the previous four years and over earlier comparable periods, reports IIF.
“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 next decade could bring a reflationary fiscal response, in sharp contrast to the austerity bias in the 2010s,” says IIF.
“If the global debt pile continues to grow at the average pace of the last 15 years, our back-of-the-envelope estimates suggest that global debt could exceed $360 trillion by 2030 – over $85 trillion higher than current levels,” IIF warns.
Global debt: Sectoral Indebtedness* USD trillion
Source: IIF, BIS, IMF, Haver, National Sources. *Household debt incorporates outstanding bank loans. Financial sector debt and non-financial corporate debt incorporate cross-border and domestic bank loans as well as onshore/offshore outstanding bonds. Government debt is extrapolated with IMF-WEO database. For details, see the General Information section of our database.
Total Global Debt by Sector, % of GDP
Sources: IIF, BIS, Haver, National Sources
Currency Breakdown of EM Sectoral Debt, % of GDP
As of Q3-2020
Sources: IIF, BIS, Haver, National Sources, IIF estimates, *LC=local currency; FC=foreign currency
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