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The Post-Crisis Economy’s Long Debt Hangover

With the largest economies, nearly eight years after the global financial crisis, burdened by high and rising levels of public and private debts, it is baffling that comprehensive restructuring does not figure prominently among policymakers' options. Indeed, at last week's G-20 meeting, debt was the proverbial elephant in the room.

CAMBRIDGE – The meeting of G-20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Washington, DC last week concluded on a sour note. Small wonder: Global growth prospects have dimmed amid a variety of risks now emanating from both advanced and developing countries.

The meeting’s participants addressed – yet again – the need for greater policy coordination, more fiscal stimulus, and a variety of structural reforms. And that discussion has become more urgent, given the widespread view that monetary policy may not have much ammunition left, and that competitive devaluations would do more harm than good.

But with the largest economies, nearly eight years after the global financial crisis, burdened by high and rising levels of public and private debts, it is baffling that comprehensive restructuring does not figure prominently among the menu of policy options. Indeed, for the global economy, debt restructuring is the proverbial elephant in the room.

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