Global debt rose to a record US$247 trillion in the year to the end of March, piling pressure on emerging markets. World debt has surged almost $150 trillion over the past 15 years.
According to an analysis by the Institute of International Finance (IIF), debt levels for household, non-financial corporate and general government sectors rose to $186.5 trillion in the first quarter of 2018.
Financial sector debt rose to a record high $60.6 trillion. At $247 trillion, this exceeded 318 per cent of world GDP in the first quarter.
Following a decade-long borrowing binge triggered by the availability of cheap money following the 2008 financial crisis, emerging market debt rose to a record $58.5 trillion in the first quarter -- up over 84% since the crisis began in 2008.
Many emerging markets rely on variable-rate bank financing and face higher risks because of rising yields and interest rates rise, making refinancing and repaying dollar-denominated debt significantly more expensive.
Government debt has risen most sharply in Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and Argentina, according to the IIF.
Also, oil-rich powerhouses Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, energy exporting giant Kazakhstan, and Peru all have dangerous dependencies on externally funded debts.