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Economic Viewpoint

Will the next global crisis once again be tied to excessive debt?

December 15, 2016
François Dupuis, Vice-President and Chief Economist • Hendrix Vachon, Senior Economist

Excessive household debt, especially in the United States, contributed to the financial crisis of 2008–2009. In other countries, government debt was the source of the economic difficulties and financial strains. Moreover, the economic recoveries that follow debt-related crises are usually much slower. The sectors that are overly indebted have to clean up their balance sheets before they can once again start to support economic growth. As 2017 begins, we could think that the deleveraging process is well on its way and that global economic growth now rests on a more solid footing. In light of available data, we have to conclude that this is not the case. While some countries have made noteworthy improvements, the debt issue is still a major problem on a global scale; it also represents a serious risk to future economic growth. This risk is even higher now that the recent uptrend in interest rates could put pressure on borrowers.