The biggest economic threat today is not the interest rate, nor the exchange rates, nor the possible trade war fuelled by Trump: it’s the debt accumulated by countries across the world. This has increased 12% of GDP since the crisis, totalling 225% of global GDP. Starting with China, followed by Europe and ending up with the US, the threat from the current and future debt is terrifying.
South Korean economist Ha-Joon Chang argues that although orthodox thinking is to cut debt, the most effective way for countries to grow is to boost their income. As for the recovery, this expert in emerging markets notes that the world economy is not really picking up in the way that it usually does after a big downturn. This is the first part of our conversation.
How do we overcome a debt crisis with more debt? Bocconi University’s Marcello Minenna recalls that in a world with inflation it is always possible to control the behaviour of the debt/GDP ratio just by reaching negative real interest rates. Also, he points out that eight years after the financial meltdown the tight interconnections in real time between the global markets make the system intrinsically unstable.