Scribes of my generation were programmed to keep numbers out of the first sentence of works of journalism. Now that we are in the second sentence, I can relay the Institute of International Finance’s latest tally of global debt: $291 trillion at current exchange rates. That’s the most ever, according to the IIF, the Washington-based lobby for big global banks and insurers.
What does one do with a number like that? Another contrivance of journalism is to convert big numbers into something concrete. So let’s see if that helps: the world’s governments, companies and households are on the hook for 18 million tonnes of loonies, which would be roughly equivalent to the weight of the 9.4 million cars and light trucks sold in Canada between 2013 and 2017. In other words, $291 trillion is a load.
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