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The good, the bad and the ugly

From The Economist

How indebted rich countries will be in 2014

THE government debt of the ten richest countries attending the G20 summits will hit 114% of GDP by 2014, up from 78% in 2007, according to a new IMF study. To measure how much fiscal pain would be required to bring gross debt ratios to a sustainable level, the IMF looked at demographic pressures and assumed that long-term interest rates exceed economic growth rates by a percentage point (the long-term pre-crisis average) and then calculated by how much primary budget balances would have to improve. The economists define this level as 60% or, for Japan, half of today’s figure (ie, 85%). Their results suggest that Ireland and Japan have most to do. Both would need to boost their primary balances by more than 12% of GDP, compared with what is forecast for 2014. Britain would need an improvement of close to 6%. The gap in America is 3.5% and in Germany just under 2%.

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