Record high global debt is an obstacle to economic growth, makes a future financial crisis more likely, and leaves fewer resources to cope with economic troubles.
The assessment came Wednesday from studies by the International Monetary Fund, which says global debt is now equal to 225 percent of the world's GDP. The figures include public and private obligations.
Meantime, slow economic growth and the very low interest rates intended to speed up expansion are making it harder for governments, business and households to pay down debt. Repaying debt leaves less money available for investment in new factories or infrastructure that could increase productivity and create jobs.
The IMF says government-sponsored programs that help companies restructure debt can help restore growth.