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Global Debt Reaches Historic Highs, WEF President Warns

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Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum (WEF), delivered a stark assessment of the global economy at the WEF’s “Special Meeting on Global Collaboration, Growth, and Energy for Development” in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

He highlighted the alarming similarity of current global debt levels to those of the Napoleonic Wars era, stressing the urgent need for governments to devise strategies to reduce this mounting debt without triggering a recession. Brende also addressed concerns about persistent inflationary pressures and noted the potential opportunities generative artificial intelligence could offer to developing nations.

The recent IMF report echoed Brende’s warnings, indicating that global public debt had risen to 93% of GDP and could reach 100% by the decade’s end. The report singled out China and the United States for their high debt levels, cautioning that loose fiscal policies in the latter could exacerbate global economic fragility.

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Despite these challenges, Brende acknowledged the world economy’s resilience, with the IMF slightly revising its global growth forecast to 3.2% for 2024. However, he cautioned that geopolitical tensions, such as those between Iran and Israel, posed significant risks. Brende emphasised the potential impact of escalated conflicts on oil prices, warning of the damaging consequences for the global economy should such scenarios unfold.

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