Contrary to expectations, debt continued to grow. However, it has been led by government borrowing across the world. The report says that the combined global debt of governments, non-financial corporations, and households has grown by $72 trillion since the end of 2007.
Interestingly, advanced economies have bought debt heavily. China accounts for more than a third of global debt growth since the financial meltdown.
2. A developing risk?
Corporate borrowings have doubled over the past decade to hit $66 trillion in mid-2017. This has been facilitated by an era of really low lending rates administered by central banks around the world. However, most of the corporate debt can be attributed to companies in developing countries. This might turn out to be a risky affair as emerging market currencies take a beating, especially after the Turkish lira's recent downward spiral.
3. Households have reduced debt, but many are far from being financially well off
Subprime loans or home loans that had a high probability of being defaulted caused the great meltdown in 2008. US households have reduced their debt substantially since. Household debt is similarly down in Europe.
But, in countries such as Australia, Canada, Switzerland, and South Korea, household debt is now substantially higher than it was prior to the crisis, and is higher in Canada as a percentage of GDP, than it was in the United States in 2007.
4. Banks are safer but less profitable
The report notes that globally banks hold less liquid assets today. In the past decade, most of the largest global banks have reduced the scale and scope of their trading activities (including proprietary trading for their own accounts), thereby reducing exposure to risk.
It specially mentions the mounting non-performing assets of Indian banks that have been a 'drag on the banking system'.
5. The fear of the unknown
The report concludes that apart from rising developing-nation corporate debt, China's rapidly rising debt burden, real-estate bubbles and mortgage risk, there are some more issues that may threaten the stability of the world economy in the future.
'The world is full of other unknowns', the authors write. For example, high-speed algorithm trading can cause 'flash crashes'. Cryptocurrencies, rising geopolitical tensions, the concept of free trade, nationalist sentiments are some of those unknowns that the economy should be alert to.
The report ends on a cautious note, "...the next crisis will not look like the last one. If 2008 taught us anything, it’s the importance of being vigilant when times are still good."