Back to the Trend? Global Debt Evolution Before and After the Pandemic

September 13, 2023

The latest update of the IMF’s Global Debt Database (GDD) documents that global debt continued to fluctuate in 2022 as it fell 10 percentage points of GDP for the second consecutive year to 238 percent of GDP. The fall in the last two years—which reversed about 2/3 of the 2020 surge in debt—is mainly explained by the rebound in economic activity, after a sharp contraction in the early stages of the pandemic, and massive inflation surprises. Private debt drove the overall decline last year, especially in advanced economies and in several emerging market economies, while debt in some countries—including China and many low-income developing countries—kept rising. After three years of riding a rollercoaster, the prospects for global debt point to a return to its long-term increasing trend, with China as a powerful force driving it. Against this backdrop, the roundtable will focus on the areas where debt-related risks are rising and how to address those risks.

2023 GDD DC



David Lawder, Reuters


Vitor Gaspar, Director, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department


Joyce Chang, Chair of Global Research, J.P. Morgan’s Corporate and Investment Bank

Elena Duggar, Chief Credit Officer for the Americas/Managing Director in the Credit Strategy & Research team, Moody’s

Vitor Gaspar, Director, IMF Fiscal Affairs Department

Jeromin Zettelmeyer, Director, Bruegel


About the Database

The IMF’s Global Debt Database (GDD) is a unique dataset covering private and public debt for virtually the entire world dating back to the 1950s. It differs from existing datasets in three major ways. First, the GDD adopts a multidimensional approach by offering multiple debt series with different coverages, thus ensuring consistency over time. Second, it more than doubles the cross-sectional dimension of existing private debt datasets. Finally, there are regular checks to improve the quality of the data including through bilateral consultations with country officials and IMF country desks. The GDD also helps to enhance data transparency across countries.