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8 October 2010updated 27 Sep 2015 2:11am

Mercator Dejection

The Economist maps the world's burgeoning debt.

By Patrick Osgood

A little doom and gloom before the weekend.

The Economist has drawn up an interactive map of approximate world debt, year by year, and country by country, since 1999.

As you would expect, the overall total global debt ($39 trillion) is rather large, and rising.

There’s something perturbing about seeing Ireland, the UK and Iceland suddenly swamped in red by 2008. It’s also salutory to remember that Greece’s debt has been over 100 percent of it’s GDP for ten years now.

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The country that remains most constant is (Red) China, whose unwavering commitment to keep the value of the renminbi low by hoovering up US treasuries may be about to spark an intercontinental currency war. After all, China and the US can’t keep propping each other up like two drunks forever.

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Before you atart seeing red, remember folks, a lot of soveriegn debt (especially in the UK) is at least in part a bag of self-loaned IOUs, and there’s not necessarily anything wrong with running deficits in hard times and paying them back in the good (a learning to Alan Johnson, and a fail for Gordon Brown).

More hearteningly, scrolling through debt as percentage of GDP over the years shows Africa (Sudan excepted) gradually emerging from the red.

I wonder what it will look like next year?