Model house on calculator

Hoeveel schuld is teveel?

LONDEN – Bestaat er een “veilige” verhouding tussen schulden en inkomens voor huishoudens, of tussen schulden en het bbp voor overheden? In beide gevallen is het antwoord “ja”. En in beide gevallen is het onmogelijk precies te zeggen wat die verhouding is. Toch is dit de meest urgente macro-economische vraag van dit moment, niet alleen als gevolg van de oplopende schulden van huishoudens en overheden sinds 2000, maar ook – en belangrijker nog – als gevolg van de overmatige zorgen die de staatsschulden nu losmaken.

Volgens een rapport uit 2015 van het McKinsey Global Institute is de schuld van de huishoudens in veel geavanceerde landen tussen 2000 en 2007 verdubbeld, naar ruim 200% van de inkomens. Sindsdien hebben de huishoudens in de landen die het hardst zijn getroffen door de economische crisis van 2008-2009 hun schulden ietwat afgebouwd, maar zijn de schulden van de huishoudens in de meeste geavanceerde landen blijven toenemen in verhouding tot de inkomsten.

De grote stijging van de staatsschulden kwam na de crisis van 2008-2009. De Britse staatsschuld steeg bijvoorbeeld van net iets meer dan 40% van het bbp in 2007 naar 92% nu. Aanhoudende pogingen van zwaar in de schulden stekende overheden om hun tekorten te elimineren hebben ervoor gezorgd dat de hoogte van de staatsschuld ten opzichte van het bbp is gestegen, door een krimp van het bbp, zoals in Griekenland, of door een uitstel van het herstel, zoals in Engeland.

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