Why the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts

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Since 2010, debt in emerging market and developing economies has grown to record highs.  Current low-interest rates —which markets expect to be sustained in the medium term—appear to mitigate some of the risks associated with high debt. However, emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) also face weak growth prospects, mounting vulnerabilities, and elevated global risks. A menu of policy options is available to reduce the likelihood of the current debt wave ending in crises and if crises were to take place, to alleviate their impact.

1. Debt has reached a record-high

Why the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand Spur

Global debt reached a record-high of about 230 percent of global GDP in 2018.  Total EMDE debt also reached an all-time high of about 170 percent of GDP in 2018, an increase of 54 percentage points of GDP since 2010.

2. Post-crisis debt accumulation has been exceptionally rapid

Why the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand Spur

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Over the past fifty years, there have been four historical waves of debt accumulation:  1970-89, 1990-2001, 2002-09, and since 2010. The latest wave, which started in 2010, has been the largest, fastest and most broad-based increase of the four.

3. Both private and public sectors have been accumulating debt

Why the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand Spur

Rapid increases in debt are common among EMDEs. Between 1970 and 2009, the sector accumulating debt shifted from the public to the private sector. However, since 2010, both governments and private sectors have rapidly accumulated debt.

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4. Rapid debt buildup has, in the past, been associated with financial crises.

Why the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand Spur

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Roughly half of the rapid debt accumulation episodes in EMDEs have been associated with financial crises.  Episodes with crises featured significantly weaker output, consumption and investment growth.

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Why the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand SpurWhy the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand Spur

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Why the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand SpurWhy the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand Spur

Latest News

Strongest first quarter ever: Preliminary results of Deutsche Post DHL Group above market expectations

  • All divisions significantly increased EBIT in first quarter 2021; Group EBIT tripled to around EUR 1.9 billion
  • Free cash flow development continued positive trajectory and improved by more than EUR 1.4 billion to around EUR 1.0 billion
  • CEO Frank Appel: "The start into the new financial year was more dynamic than ever"


SINGAPORE - Media OutReach - 12 April 2021 - Deutsche Post DHL Group has today released preliminary results for the first quarter of 2021 and has raised the outlook for the current financial year. Preliminary operating profit (EBIT) for the first three months improved to around EUR 1.9 billion (Q1 2020: EUR 592 million). The positive development of the group's businesses seen in the fourth quarter 2020 has continued well through the first quarter 2021. In the first three months of the year the B2C shipment volumes remained high in all networks while the recovery in the B2B business continued.

"The start to the new financial year was more dynamic than ever. It proves that we have successfully geared our business to the right growth drivers. One year into the pandemic we experienced in the first quarter 2021 a sustained momentum in e-commerce and a significant stabilization in global trade with increasing air- and sea-freight volumes. Consequently all divisions reported a significant jump in earnings above market expectations. Global trade continues to recover and vaccine distribution is in full swing which makes me very optimistic for the rest of 2021 and beyond," said Frank Appel, CEO of Deutsche Post DHL Group.

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All divisions optimally positioned for continuing e-commerce boom and growth in global trade

Express: The division reached an EBIT of around EUR 955 million in the first quarter 2021 compared to EUR 393 million in Q1 2020.

Global Forwarding, Freight: EBIT in Global Forwarding, Freight stood at around EUR 215 million in Q1 2021, clearly above previous year's Q1 of EUR 73 million.

Supply Chain: EBIT at Supply Chain came in at around EUR 165 million in the first quarter 2021 compared to EUR 105 million in Q1 2020.

eCommerce Solutions: eCommerce Solutions recorded a first quarter 2021 EBIT of around EUR 115 million, clearly above last year's Q1 result of EUR 6 million.

Post & Parcel Germany: EBIT in Post & Parcel Germany in Q1 2021 was around EUR 555 million (Q1 2020: EUR 334 million).

Earnings momentum mirrored in positive cash flow development and improved outlook


The continued positive business development is underpinned by a strong cash flow development; free cash flow amounted to around EUR 1.0 billion in the first quarter 2021. In Q1 2020 this figure was still negative at EUR -409 million.

In light of the strong earnings momentum, guidance for 2021 is adjusted as follows:

Group EBIT for 2021 is now expected to be significantly above EUR 5.6 billion (previous forecast: more than EUR 5.6 billion). Equally, the result for the DHL divisions is now seen significantly above EUR 4.5 billion (previous forecast: more than EUR 4.5 billion). EBIT for the Post & Parcel Germany division is no longer expected at around EUR 1.6 billion but above EUR 1.6 billion. The expectation of a Group Functions EBIT of around EUR -0.4 billion remains unchanged. Full year 2021 Free Cash Flow is now expected to be significantly above EUR 2.3 billion (previous forecast: around EUR 2.3 billion).

The Group will introduce a revised detailed guidance with the comprehensive disclosure for Q1 2021 which will be published as planned on May 5, 2021.

Deutsche Post DHL Group

Deutsche Post DHL Group is the world's leading logistic company. The Group connects people and markets and is an enabler of global trade. It aspires to be the first choice for customers, employees and investors worldwide. To this end, Deutsche Post DHL Group is focusing on growth in its profitable core logistics businesses and accelerating the digital transformation in all business divisions. The Group contributes to the world through sustainable business practices, corporate citizenship and environmental activities. By the year 2050, Deutsche Post DHL Group aims to achieve zero emissions logistics.


Deutsche Post DHL Group is home to two strong brands: DHL offers a comprehensive range of parcel and international express service, freight transport, and supply chain management services, as well as e-commerce logistics solutions. Deutsche Post is Europe's leading postal and parcel service provider. Deutsche Post DHL Group employs approximately 570,000 people in over 220 countries and territories worldwide. The Group generated revenues of more than 66 billion Euros in 2020.


The logistics company for the world.

Why the recent debt buildup is a concern, in four charts - Brand Spur
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