OECD countries’ debt ‘to top’ post-war highs

OECD countries’ debt ‘to top’ post-war highs

PARIS - Reuters
OECD countries’ debt ‘to top’ post-war highs

The OECD has said the combined debt of 34 member countries will supass the World War II peak, by reaching 117 percent of the total GDP this year.

The combined debt burden of the biggest developed economies will surpass this year record levels seen at the end of World War II, adding pressure on governments as they roll over post-crisis debts, the OECD said on March 28.

Gross public debt in OECD countries for which long-term data is available will top the World War II peak of 116 percent of GDP, reaching an estimated 117 percent this year, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

The OECD’s 34 members include mostly wealthy countries such as the United States and European countries. Some emerging economies such as Mexico and Turkey are members although bigger developing countries such as China and India are not.

Not only are debt levels high, but a growing share comes due in the next three years with nearly 30 percent of long-term debt needing to be refinanced by the end of 2016, the Paris-based organisation said in its annual sovereign borrowing outlook.

While such a high level of refinancing is not unprecedented, rolling over debt will be made all the more complicated by uncertainties created by the U.S. Federal Reserve’s unwinding its bond-buying programme, the OECD’s head of public debt management issue, Hans Blommestein, said.

“If you have to go to the market because you have to refinance, that’s a challenge,” Bloomestein told Reuters. “It’s not impossible, but it’s not a piece of cake.”

Taking redemptions into account, the combined borrowing need of OECD governments was seen easing slightly to $10.6 trillion this year from $10.8 trillion last year.

Japan will be the biggest issuer this year with plans to borrow the equivalent of 64.7 percent of its national output. Its borrowing alone would make up 35 percent of the OECD total.