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Global debt has never been higher, the IMF said this week, urging countries to take advantage of current strong GDP growth rates and reduce it before economic and financial stability come under serious threat. Certainly, some of the figures in the IMF’s latest fiscal report were eye-catching: debt at the end of 2016 was $164 trillion, or 225 percent of global GDP; almost half of the rise since 2007 has come from China alone; government debt-to-GDP in advanced economies has only ever been higher once in history, around the time of the Second World War. And in a world of sub-par inflation and weak wage growth, higher nominal debt on both national and individual levels is a potential worry because the real value of that debt continues to rise. "There is no room for complacency," the IMF warned. But there are reasons why this warning may ring hollow. Firstly, an increase in borrowing and credit to revive the world economy following the financial crisis is exactly what the International ...

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