Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!
Reproduced from The Institute of International Finance; Chart: Axios Visuals

The world's debt-to-GDP ratio rose to 356% in 2020, a new report from the Institute of International Finance finds, up 35 percentage points from where it stood in 2019, as countries saw their economies shrink and issued an ocean of debt to stay afloat.

Why it matters: The increase brings numerous countries, including the U.S., to extreme debt levels, well beyond what economists have called untenable in the past.

  • Nonfinancial private sector debt alone now makes up 165% of the entire world's economic output.

What they're saying: "The upswing was well beyond the rise seen during the 2008 global financial crisis," IIF economists said in the report.

  • "Back in 2008 and 2009, the increase in global debt ratio was limited to 10 percentage points and 15 percentage points, respectively."

By the numbers: Global debt increased to $281 trillion last year, with total private and public sector debt rising by $24 trillion in the 61 countries IIF follows.

  • That rise accounts for more than a quarter of the $88 trillion increase in debt that has been accumulated over the past decade.
  • Government debt accounts for 105% of global GDP, up from 88% in 2019, rising by $12 trillion in 2020 or nearly triple its $4.3 trillion increase in 2019.
  • Debt in the financial sector rose by more than 5 percentage points to 86% of GDP in 2020. This was the largest increase since 2007 and the first annual increase since 2016.

Why the debt matters: While worries about significantly pushing up inflation and borrowing costs have not come to pass, slow growth and diminishing returns have, and the world's already high debt levels look to be inhibiting economic growth and threaten to hold back a full recovery from the pandemic in the long run.

  • Further, almost all of the debt issued in 2020 was to deal with present circumstances rather than to invest in forward-looking projects or growth, making future investments in such projects more difficult and potentially more costly.

Where it stands: The CBO projected U.S. GDP growth over the next 10 years will be largely below 2% (with the notable exclusion of 2021), and that annual budget deficits will increase.

  • The federal debt is set to exceed the size of the economy this year for only the second time since the end of World War II and grow to 107% of GDP by 2031.
  • That projection was made without including President Biden's proposed $1.9 trillion stimulus package.

Go deeper

Updated Feb 17, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Warren, Schumer double down on push to cancel student debt after Biden rejects plan

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Rep. Ilhan Omar, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren at a press conference on student loan debt on Feb. 4. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) doubled down Wednesday on demands that President Biden cancel up to $50,000 in federal student debt for all borrowers.

Why it matters: Biden said at a Tuesday town hall that he is "prepared to write off" $10,000 worth of student debt for borrowers, but no more than that.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
Feb 18, 2021 - Economy & Business

Why January's blowout retail sales report matters

Data: Investing.com; Chart: Axios Visuals

January's U.S. retail sales report showed a 5.3% gain, the third-largest month-over-month increase on record, trailing only the booming numbers seen in June and July, as states opened up after nationwide shutdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Between the lines: January's big number was more impressive because it was 7.4% higher than in January 2020, whereas on a year-over-year basis both June and July's reports were below their commensurate 2020 figures.

The stark racial gap in homeownership

Reproduced from the National Association of Realtors; Chart: Axios Visuals

The homeownership rate for Black families is nearly 30 percentage points lower than that for white families, according to a new data analysis by the National Association of Realtors, which examined trends between racial groups from 2009 to 2019.

Why it matters: The report comes as President Biden has signed an executive order on racial inequity, directing his administration to take steps toward eliminating "racial bias and other forms of discrimination in all stages of home-buying and renting."