The Economist just launched the Global Public Debt Clock.
Maybe it should be called the Global Guilt Counter. As the magazine notes, “The worst global economic storm since the 1930s may be beginning to clear, but another cloud already looms on the financial horizon: massive public debt.”
A sampling of data from the clock paints a scary picture:
- Global public debt is currently at nearly $35 trillion and is predicted to rise to $45 trillion by 2011
- US public debt is currently at $6.7 trillion and is predicted to rise to over $10 trillion by 2011
- Chinese public debt per capita is currently $649.52. In the US, per capita debt is $21,863.70 and will rise to $32,307 per person by 2011
The Global Public Debt Clock was developed using data and forecasts from the Economist Intelligence Unit database. It is, of course, inspired by the ‘National Debt Clock’, a rolling measure of the US public debt that physically resides in midtown Manhattan. This clock was originally sponsored by a real estate developer, Seymour Durst, who wanted to make people aware of the rising public debt, which at the time was less than $3 trillion. The Global Public Debt Clock includes historical data on sovereign debt back to 1999 and forecasts through 2011. Data can be parsed to view country comparisons, including figures on public debt per capita, debt as a per cent of GDP, and yearly rate of change.
The worst global economic storm since the 1930s may be beginning to clear, but another cloud already looms on the financial horizon: massive public debt. Across the rich world governments are borrowing vast amounts as the recession reduces tax revenue and spending mounts—on bail-outs, unemployment benefits and stimulus plans. New figures from economists at the IMF suggest that the public debt of the 10 leading rich countries will rise from 78% of GDP in 2007 to 114% by 2014. These governments will then owe around $50,000 for every one of their citizens Not since the second world war have so many governments borrowed so much so quickly or, collectively, been so heavily in hock. And today’s debt surge, unlike the wartime one, will not be temporary. Even after the recession ends few rich countries will be running budgets tight enough to stop their debt from rising further. Worse, today’s borrowing binge is taking place just before a slow-motion budget-bust caused by the pension and health-care costs of a greying population. By 2050 a third of the rich world’s population will be over 60. The demographic bill is likely to be 10 times bigger than the fiscal cost of the financial crisis.
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