The debt of nations

I’m very pleased to present our most recent addition to the Better Government Series: “The debt of nations”.

Since 2001 there has been a dramatic increase in borrowing by governments to nearly £30 trillion, a tripling in the level of public debt.  Borrowing can be a valuable tool to finance capital investment, e.g. infrastructure, which creates economic and social benefits.  However, increasingly governments in developed countries are borrowing to pay day to day running costs.    

With the era of ultra-low interest rates coming to an end and the reversal of quantitative easing, there are real questions about whether the cost of public debt will be sustainable. Traditionally governments used inflation as a tool to reduce debt relative to the size of the economy.  This policy choice comes at a cost however, eroding the value of saving and investments in the domestic currency and may be harder to implement in an era where central banks are mandated to keep inflation low.

Our report explores these issues and provides analysis and reflections on borrowing by government.

ICAEW believes we need a better public understanding of how public debt is measured and managed to know if borrowing by government is truly under control.

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