Efforts by world governments to limit the economic damage from the COVID-19 pandemic are risking future growth and stability with record debt.
The Institute for International Finance said the world's debt levels will rise by $15 trillion to a record of some $277 trillion by the end of the year owing to unprecedented spending to cope with COVID-19 economic crises.
This represents a debt-to-gross-domestic-product ratio of 365%. World debt in the third quarter was $272 trillion.
Warning of the "attack of the debt tsunami," the institute said world debt will break records in the coming months.
"Spurred by a sharp rise in government and corporate borrowing as the COVID-19 pandemic wears on, the global debt load increased by $15 trillion in the first three quarters of 2020 and now stands above $272 trillion," according to the institute in its latest Global Debt Monitor.
The institute said the pace of world debt accumulation has been unprecedented since 2016, increasing by more than $52 trillion. It said among rich countries, debt rose to 432% of gross domestic product in the third quarter, which is a 50% increase from 2019.
"The pace of global debt accumulation has been unprecedented since 2016, increasing by over $52 trillion," the institute said.
"While some $15 trillion of this surge has been recorded in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the debt buildup over the past four years has far outstripped the $6 trillion rise over the previous four years."
The U.S., which has dispensed the biggest stimulus packages in the world since March, accounted for almost half of this increase
The institute said U.S. debt should hit $80 trillion in 2020 compared with $71 trillion in 2019. In the eurozone, debt rose by $1.5 trillion to $53 trillion until September.
This eurozone debt is still below its high of $55 trillion in the second quarter of 2014 when the bloc was dealing with a sovereign debt crisis.
Overall debt in developed markets jumped to 432% of gross domestic product in the third quarter from 380% at the end of 2019. Emerging market debt-to-gross-domestic-product hit 248% in the third quarter.
China's debt rose to 335% of gross domestic product and for the year the ratio is expected to reach about 365% of world gross domestic product. Malaysia and Turkey are experiencing the biggest rises in nonfinancial-sector debt.
"There is significant uncertainty about how the global economy can deleverage in the future without significant adverse implications for economic activity," the institute said.