$247,000,000,000,000 – Robert Samuelson at the WaPo:
The untold story of the world economy — so far at least — is the potentially explosive interaction between the spreading trade war and the overhang of global debt, estimated at a staggering $247 trillion. That’s “trillion” with a “t.” The numbers are so large as to be almost incomprehensible.
Households, businesses and governments borrow on the assumption that they will service their debts either by paying the principal and interest or by rolling over the debts into new loans. But this works only if incomes grow fast enough to make the debts bearable or to justify new loans. When those ingredients go missing, delinquencies, defaults and (at worse) panics follow.
It is reasonably well known who the debtors are (pretty much everyone), but who are the creditors who have lent this “staggering” and “almost incomprehensible” amount? I think one day we will discover it’s actually Chuck from Nebraska. I’m pretty sure that my theory is no more far-fetched than the reality of the global financial system, which is so complex that no one fully knows or understands it anymore.