World Bank releases report on global debt statistics

Thursday, December 20, 2012
World Bank Headquarters in Washington, DC
[FILE PHOTO: Shiny Things
Washington: Net external debt inflows and aggregate net capital inflows (debt and equity) to developing countries fell in 2011, driven by a sharp contraction in net inflows from official creditors and a collapse of portfolio equity flows, according to International Debt Statistics 2013, released today.  The downturn was partially offset by inflows from commercial banks, sustained access to international bond markets and a rise in foreign direct investment.

“These international debt statistics are a vital input for experts working to improve the management of capital flows around the world and having the data open to all is a welcome development,” says Ibrahim Levent, Senior Information Officer in the Bank’s Data Group and part of the team that produced the report.

International Debt Statistics 2013 contains comprehensive data from developing as well as high-income countries. Following are some key trends and developments:
  • The combined stock of developing countries’ external debt increased by $464 billion to $4.9 trillion at end 2011, but at an average of 22 percent, remained moderate in relation to Gross National Income (GNI), and to exports (an average of 69 percent).  Short-term debt constituted 26 percent of debt stock, but risks were mitigated by international reserves, equivalent to 121 percent of external debt stock at end 2011.
  • Net external debt inflows to developing countries fell 9 percent in 2011 to $465 billion due to the sharp contraction in inflows from official creditors, which fell to $30 billion (from $73 billion in 2010).  By contrast at $434 billion, net inflows from private creditors were almost identical to their 2010 level, but with an important shift in composition: net short-term debt inflows contracted by 27 percent, while medium- and long–term financing from commercial banks tripled to $110 billion.
  • Aggregate net capital inflows (debt and equity) also fell 9 percent in 2011 to $1,107 billion (4.9 percent of GNI), compared with $1,211 billion in 2010 (6.2 percent of GNI), but stayed close to their pre-crisis peak of $1,180 billion in 2007.  The downturn was due to the collapse in portfolio equity flows, which fell to $2 billion, (compared to an inflow of $120 billion in 2010).  Meanwhile, foreign direct investment continued on an upward trajectory, rising by 11 percent in 2011 to a record high of $644 billion.
  • China received 27 percent of net debt and 35 percent of net equity flows to all developing countries in 2011. When China is excluded, net external debt inflows and aggregate net capital inflows to developing countries fall 13 percent and 3 percent respectively in 2011, compared with 2010.
  • Countries reporting to the Quarterly External Debt Statistics and the Public Sector Database confirm that high income countries have, on average, a much higher level of external debt: 126 percent of GDP for G7 countries in 2011 compared to 19 percent for the top ten developing countries.  General government debt (external and domestic) is also much higher, with an average of 76 percent in Euro-zone (17) countries in 2011, more than twice the comparable ratio for the largest borrowers among developing countries.

International Debt Statistics 2013 is a successor of the World Bank’s publication, Global Development Finance (2010-2012), Global Development Finance, Volume II (1997 through 2009), and its precursor, World Debt Tables (1973 through 1996). The report provides statistical tables showing the external debt of 128 developing countries that report to the World Bank’s Debtor Reporting System and summary information for countries reporting to the Quarterly External Debt Statistics and the Public Sector Database.
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