Last week, Bloomberg published an alarming report about global debt, which has continued to balloon following the global financial crisis.

This is depicted by two graphs, which show how total debt (which includes government and private debt) has increased for different countries.

Total debt 2007. Source: Bloomberg
Total debt 2007. Source: Bloomberg
Total debt 2018. Source: Bloomberg
Total debt 2018. Source: Bloomberg

At first glance, South Africa's position seems reassuringly small in the larger context, particularly when compared to the dramatic rise in Chinese debt, which has increased sevenfold since the financial crisis. 

Seen on its own, however, South Africa's debt position is certainly not a pretty picture.

Government debt now represents more than half of the SA GDP - the highest it has ever been. As recently as 2009, it was below a third. 

While this remains low compared to other countries like the US (105%), France (97%), Brazil (74%) and India (69%), South Africa  also has a weaker economic growth rate. 

Also, South Africa pays much more to service its debt: richer countries get low interest rates, and also pay debt in their own currency. By contrast, South Africa has to pay much higher interest rates because of its weaker credit rating.Also, our government debt was not used for infrastructure, which could bolster economic growth in the long term, but for expenditure - include on the bloated civil service. 

For more, go to Business Insider South Africa.

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